Eggplant is one of my favorite foods so I’m always on the prowl for interesting recipes. Nightshade. It’s a ‘nightshade’ food – Solanaceae – considered deadly for people with aching joints and other ailments – not deadly as in life threatening necessarily but deadly as in pain exacerbating. Hard to believe.
Urban myth? I think it might actually be true and Ihave tried not eating nightshade plants. I’ve also tried doing more yoga and the later is pretty effective for building up muscle where achiness occurs. Anyway, for the moment, I ignore the information and eat on. This is a super deeply delicious dish with complex flavors of sweet and sour (“agrodolce” in Italian). This dish hails from Sicily according to Nancy Silverton, world renowned chef, owner of the Mozza restaurants and more and author of The Mozza Cookbook where I found this recipe.
This is a really nice cookbook if you’re looking for a new one. Recipes are as represented and generally not too complex. Also, I ALWAYS double this recipe because it goes so fast – so popular – and it keeps well.
Eggplant Caponata (- The Mozza Cookbook by Nancy Silverton with a few tweaks)
1 ½ pounds eggplant cut into 1-inch cubs (about 8 cups)
2 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¾ cup good olive oil 1 onion (yellow or red – either will do and sometimes I use both – cut into 1-inch pieces)
2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
2 Tbsp dried currants
½ tsp dried chipotle flakes (I use the ones from Temecula olive oil company)
¾ cup tomato sauce
¼ good balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
½ tsp sugar
3 Tbsp toasted pine nuts
Place the eggplant cubes in a bowl and toss with salt and pepper.
Heat ¼ cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan (I use a straight sided one) over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the eggplant cubes. Go ahead and crowd them in – they shrink.
Cook for a couple minutes until they begin to brown. Drizzle ¼ cup of the remaining oil over the eggplant and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes turning the eggplant until the cubes are brown all over or pretty much so. Use the remaining ¼ of oil as you go.
Using a slotted spoon remove the eggplant cubes to a plate or bowl and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring so that the water from the onion deglazes the pan. Cook until the onion is translucent about 5 minutes. Maybe more.
Add the currants, garlic, red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Stir constantly so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the tomato sauce, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and sugar and stir to combine. Return the eggplant to the pan and add 2 Tbsp of the pine nuts. Stir gently to combine ingredients, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and cook for another 5 minutes or so until almost all of the liquid is evaporated. Taste for seasoning, add salt or sugar as you like. Serve or cool to room temperature. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts over the top just before serving.
It’s nice to serve with thick cut bread brushed with olive oil and grilled, or with crackers.