Caponata is a well-known Sicilian dish that is sour, sweet, salty and is so delicious. The eggplants are normally chopped up as part of the dish as I made here before, but with this version, I’ve made it less of relish and more of a substantial side. I crumbled feta over the top which adds to the savoury flavour and of course, makes it more luxurious. Golden sultanas add a lovely, sweet element, and toasted pine nuts with torn basil leaves finish things off. This is a wonderful dish that can be made in advance and best served at room temperature.
I love how this dish encompasses so much of what Sicily is about. It’s the largest island in the Mediterranean located just off southern Italy and over the centuries was invaded by the Greeks, the Normans (French), Romans, Phoenicians, the Spanish, and Arabs. Each leaving their mark on the cuisine of the Island. It’s near the top of my travel destinations bucket list and as soon as the world starts returning to normal I hope to visit.
I love a local barrel-fermented goat’s feta that you can get at some Woolies, but any feta will work. It can also be left off if you would prefer to keep this dish vegan.
This is a great side dish for any grilled meat or fish or can form part of a large Mediterranean feast. Any leftovers can be stored in the fridge.
Recipe – serves 4 – 6 as a sidePrint
Roasted eggplant with caponata
I turn caponata into a more substantial dish with this roasted eggplant and caponata with feta recipe.
1kg – 1.2kg eggplant / aubergine (about 3 – 4 depending on size)
extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
1 large brown or red onion, finely chopped
1 big red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
125ml (1/2 cup) water
1 400gm tin chopped tomatoes
½ cup golden sultanas
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar +2 Tbsp
3 Tbsp capers, drained
½ –3/4 cup green olives (pitted or left whole)
½ tsp – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
Small handful basil, roughly chopped (about 7gms)
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
100gms feta (I loved a barrel-fermented goats cheese feta with this)
Preheat the oven to 200C /400F and brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.
Cut the eggplants in half or quarters depending on the size (or a mix of both) and brush all sides with olive oil. Season them well with salt & pepper and spread them out cut side down on the baking tray. Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes until golden in colour and are cooked through. Turn over once or twice halfway through.
While the eggplants are roasting, heat a glug of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the onions, pepper, and celery until soft. About 5 minutes. Add a splash of water if they start to stick. Add the tomato paste and a little more of the water and cook for a minute or two until the water has cooked off. Add the tin of tomatoes, sultanas and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes. Add whatever water is left.
Add the vinegar, capers, olives, and chilli and cook for about 5 minutes seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Allow this to cool to room temperature.
When the eggplants are roasted, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool. Place on a serving platter and spoon over the caponata. Crumble the feta over if you are using it and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and basil leaves.
Serve with crusty bread and a salad or with any meat or fish dish. This is perfect for a BBQ/braai.
Keywords: caponata, recipe, roasted eggplant, aubergines, brinjal, vegan, vegetarian
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