Caponata with Grilled Crostini
A traditional Sicilian vegetable dish, caponata is made with sweet and sour caramelized eggplant, onions, peppers, olives, capers and tomatoes. It has many uses in the kitchen—it’s a great vegetarian appetizer served with grilled bread, you can toss it with pasta, serve it hot as a side dish with grilled lamb, or refrigerate it for a day to let the flavors meld together and eat it as a cold salad. If you have a lot of vegetables to use up, I suggest making a big batch of caponata and canning or freezing the leftovers.
Watch Andrew make the recipe:
Andrew Zimmern Cooks: Caponata with Grilled Crostini
- 6 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch batons
- 1 cup olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
- 6 basil leaves, plus a couple extra leaves for garnish
- 3 garlic cloves
- One 28-ounce can San Marzano diced tomatoes
- 3 eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes, salted and drained well
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/2 cup salt packed capers, rinsed and de-salinated
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 cup green olives (green lugques work well), sliced
- 1/4 cup red pepper, micro diced
- 1/4 cup yellow bell pepper, cut into matchsticks (alumettes)
- 1 baguette (or your preferred bread)
- Olive oil, for drizzling
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fill a separate bowl with ice water. Once your water is boiling, add celery and cook for 1 minute. Plunge it into a bowl of ice water.
Place 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the basil and garlic. Sauté briefly, do not brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for 45 minutes, tomatoes will reduce to sauce consistency. Season and measure out 2 cups of sauce for the caponata. Freeze the rest.
Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil to the skillet and fry the eggplant cubes until browned. Do not stir; let the olive oil and the pan do its magic. Season with salt. Reserve eggplant.
Wipe out pan, add remaining 1/2 cup of oil and sauté the onions until browned. Add capers, sugar, olives, vinegar, 2 cups of the tomato sauce, blanched celery and the eggplant. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the red and yellow peppers. Add additional torn fresh basil leaves for garnish.
Let cool to room temperature. You can eat it at this point, or refrigerate for up to 24 hours to let the flavors meld together.
Slice a baguette. Drizzle baguette slices with olive oil. Lightly oil both sides. Using a preheated grill pan, grill the bread slices (you can also do it under the broiler). Serve with the caponata.