Roasted eggplant caponata is a delightful take on the classic Italian appetizer, making it easy to enjoy year round. Scented with fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, this recipe best made with summer’s flavorful tomatoes and enjoyed on bruschetta or fresh bread. It’s a versatile dish that can be served warm or room temperature.
Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish that’s sometimes referred to as a salad. But with many of its ingredients cooked or roasted, it can be used as a vegetable side dish or as an appetizer.
One of the tastiest ways to use it is spread on fresh or grilled crusty bread (see how to make bruschetta, ahead).
Roasted eggplant caponata recipe tips
Caponata can be prepared a number of different ways. Sometimes the eggplant is roasted whole until collapsed, then scooped out of its skin and chopped; the remaining ingredients (including onions, celery, and tomatoes) are sautéed and combined with it. In other versions, everything, eggplant and all, are sautéed in a pan.
Roasting makes it easy. This version is particularly easy because all the vegetables (other than the tomatoes) are roasted together, and roasting tends to bring out the best flavors.
The tomatoes. olives, and fresh herbs are combine with the just-roasted vegetables, allowing the flavors to meld as they cool down. Feel free to use lots of fresh basil, more than what’s listed in the ingredients, especially if you grow it in your home garden.
How long does eggplant caponata keep? If you and your guests don’t devour it at once, it will taste even better the next day, as the flavors have time to meld. Barring that, any that’s left over should be stored in an airtight container, where it will keep for about 3 to 4 days.
How to make bruschetta
Bruschetta, is basically fresh baguette or Italian bread, sliced and oven toasted until crisp. It’s a classic accompaniment for spreads like this one. Use whole-grain bread for added goodness. You’ll need:
- 1 long fresh baguette or Italian bread (not too skinny)
- Olive oil cooking spray or extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large clove garlic, halved
1 Preheat the oven to 350º F.
2 Cut the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and spray the tops lightly with cooking oil spray or brush lightly with olive oil.
3 Bake the bread slices for 7 minutes, then turn them over, spray or brush lightly again, and continue to bake for 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
4 When cool enough to handle, rub one side of each toast with the cut side of the garlic. Serve in a napkin-lined bowl or basket with a spread of choice.
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- 2 medium eggplants or 3 smaller ones (see varieties in notes), about 1 1/2 pounds total, ends trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch or so dice
- 1 large onion (preferably red onion), finely chopped
- 2 medium celery stalks, diced
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 12 to 16 ounces ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup chopped pitted green olives or black olives, preferably brine-cured
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, or more, as desired
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, or more, as desired
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano, optional
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup roasted pine nuts, optional
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Combine the eggplant pieces, onion, and celery in a mixing bowl and drizzle in about half of the olive oil.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined roasting pan. Roast for 15 minutes, then stir in the garlic. Continue to roast until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown lightly, about 15 minutes longer.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the eggplant mixture with the remaining olive oil and all the rest of the ingredients and stir together.
- Allow to cool until just warm or at room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl or platter.
- If time allows, let stand at room temperature, covered, to let the flavors blend more completely. Serve with fresh bread, bruschetta, or pita wedges. Store any left over in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about 3 days.
Use whatever kind of eggplant is available — ordinary Italian egglplant, globe eggplants, white eggplants, or Sicilian eggplants. They're all good!
Variation: For an authentic touch, add about 1/4 cup golden raisins.
If you like this eggplant-based appetizer, you might also enjoy …
See lots more easy vegan appetizers & snacks.
Photos of Eggplant Caponata: Elena Veselova / Bigstock