In this story, the hero is my Aunt Jessie, Grandma, Great Grandma and all my other aunts spread across New York’s boroughs back in the day. This is the cold eggplant dish that was a staple for any special family gathering. This is the exact recipe that has been in my family for years. I have been trying to replicate it but just recently my mom found a photocopy of the actual handwritten recipe and it puts my other versions to shame.
I love that this recipe is completely opposite of how I would typically go about making it if left to my own devices, cooking in aromatic layers of flavor taking into consideration each ingredient. I LOVE how this recipe is like “Oh, you’re a chef? That’s nice. Take a seat and let me show you how an Italian grandma gets it done.” Sometimes it really is as simple as throwing everything in a pot and letting the ingredients and fire do the work.
Caponata is the Sicilian version of ratatouille. You can fill lettuce cups, spread it on garlic toast (my favorite), on sandwiches, etc. You could also go wild and eat warmed up with some pasta. shhh..don’t tell my mom:)
1 medium eggplant, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 c. mushrooms, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
⅓ c. olive oil
1 can tomato paste
½ c. water
2 T. red wine vinegar
½ cup pimento stuffed olives, sliced
1 T. granulated sugar
1 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot over medium heat combine eggplant, green bell pepper, red onion, mushrooms, garlic and olive oil. cook for around ten minutes, stirring occasionally. season with salt and pepper.
2. Add tomato paste, water, red wine vinegar, olives, sugar and oregano and cook over low heat covered for around 30 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
3. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
4. Let cool.
Component in Action
-serve as an appetizer on toast, crackers, along side cheese and/or sliced meats
-make it a salad with fresh greens and a lemon vinaigrette
-caponata sandwich anyone?! yes please. with some fresh mozzarella and bread like toasted ciabatta