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Rustic texture, with a mildly sweet and salty flavor from the addition of balsamic vinegar and olives, Rustic Eggplant Caponata is a great addition to pasta or as a topping to slices of toasted french bread.
I don't know about you, but I hate wasting food.
This weekend I was planning meals and between a recent grocery run and my biweekly food coop delivery, I was overrun with eggplant. I started searching for a new way to use my eggplant.
A recipe for Eggplant Caponata did the trick. I call it a rustic recipe because the final dish is full of flavor and texture. It also can be a lower-carb alternative for the Mediterranean Diet.
I know what you are thinking, Carbs aren't an issue with the Mediterranean Diet. But, old habits die hard and I still try to lower the carbohydrate count in some of my meals.
Don't get me wrong. I love eggplant, but I needed a new twist for a recipe. I have been making Turkey Eggplant filets and I love their Mediterranean Spice. But It was time for a change. I was looking for a recipe with flavor, but also one that was lower carb.
Growing up I generally associated eggplant with Eggplant Parmesan and with Eggplant Lasagna. Both are flavorful but can also be loaded with calories.
Eggplant comes in different shapes and colors. Lobular, short and round, as well as long and skinny.
Color can vary too from a deep purple to white to green and sometimes striped. When choosing an eggplant, look for those that are firm but not hard. The skin should be smooth and free of brown spotting.
It is thought of as a vegetable but technically is a fruit. Soft and spongy on the inside, eggplant soaks up with flavors that are added to it during cooking, making it a versatile plant to include in your meals.
You will find different variations of this eggplant caponata recipe floating around. For mine, I left out the raisins, although they would add a sweet bite to the mix. They also increase the number of carbohydrates. So pick your battle.
I have also seen recipes where red pepper flakes are added or chopped green or red pepper. That is the great thing about this type of recipe; you can really customize to your taste.
I love all the ingredients for this dish including of course the eggplant, the tomatoes, the green and black olives, the capers, and the pinenuts. Adding chopped celery adds a crispy texture.
The recipe is super simple but does require a bit of chopping, well honestly a lot of chopping of eggplant, onion, celery, and olives.
Another step that will help improve the firmness of the fried eggplant and help mellow any bitter flavor is to chop the eggplant and place it in a colander. Sprinkle generously with salt and let drain for 1 hour or more before preparing the caponata.
Time Saver Tip: If you are like me I don't have time to let my eggplant sit for an hour to drain off liquid.
You can chop the eggplant into 1-2 inch cubes, no need to peel. Place eggplant on a microwave-safe plate on a layered paper towel. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. Remove and let cool. Take a paper towel and press excess liquid from the eggplant. Done. Almost an hour saved.
But, the actual cooking is quick. What takes time is giving the final cooked medley time to meld all the flavors. It's best to give it 8 hours up to overnight. It will keep in the fridge for 3 days and you can freeze it for use on a later day.
We eat this eggplant caponata as a topping on pasta, but it also works great as an appetizer on toasted french bread. Simple toast your bread slices with a bit of olive oil for 5 minutes in a 400 degree F oven and you are done.
Ingredients for Eggplant Caponata
This recipe uses approximately 2 medium eggplants. Look for eggplant that is firm but not hard. Avoid those with skin that has started to brown.
Other ingredients include a can of Petite Diced tomatoes. Or you can chop fresh if you have the time.
Chopped celery, and onion.
I used two types of olives in this dish. Kalamata olives and regular green olives stuffed with pimento. You can substitute black olives if that is what you have on hand.
Another salty ingredient is capers. Don't skip them, they add great flavor. Not sure what a caper it? Check out my post on Mediterranean Spices and Herbs to learn more.
Toasted pine nuts add a crunchy bite.
Red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar add extra tangy flavor. Pepper to taste.
Additions to Eggplant Caponata
This caponata recipe is more savory than sweet. You can experiment with ingredients, including adding golden raisins, sugar, and peppers. Adjusting the amount of red or white vinegar to find the right mix for you. You won't be disappointed.
What to Serve with Eggplant Caponata
I love to serve Rustic Eggplant Caponata with other healthy appetizers. Serve with any of these delicious appetizer options.
Mediterranean Meatballs - these turkey meatballs are tender and full of Mediterranean spices and cheese.
Spicy Cheese Ball Recipe - simple cheese ball recipe that comes together in 15 minutes.
Healthy Greek Yogurt Dill Dip and Cut Vegetables - flavorful dip for cut vegetables or whole wheat crackers.
Corn and Black Eyed Pea Dip - serve with tortilla chips, celery, or sliced cucumber.
Spicy Roasted Almonds - spice infused toasted nuts to add crunch to your plate.
December 2020: This post was updated with new images, recipe tips, and serving suggestions.
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