(Air date: March 8, 2016. Source: Chef John Folse.)
Prep Time: 2 Hours Yields: 15 Servings
This classic Italian eggplant dish may be served as a salad or antipasto. This recipe makes a large amount of caponata, so jarring tips are included below. Take advantage of the lower price of eggplants in season and make multiple batches for preserving.
8 medium eggplants, peeled and cubed 1 cup olive oil 3 cups diced onions 3 cups diced celery 3/4 cup diced red bell peppers 3/4 cup diced yellow bell peppers 1/4 cup minced garlic 1/4 cup drained capers 2 cups tomato paste 2 cups tomato sauce 2 /3 cup sugar 1 cup red wine vinegar 1 cup pimiento olives, diced 1 cup pitted black olives, diced 1 tbsp dried oregano 1 1/2 tbsps salt or to taste 2 tsps black pepper or to taste 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
Place eggplant in a large pot of lightly salted water and cover by 1-inch. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce to simmer and cook 10–15 minutes until eggplants are soft, but not falling apart. Drain in colander and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Sauté 3–5 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add capers, tomato paste, tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar. Stir to blend well then add eggplant, olives and oregano. Incorporate well. Bring mixture to a low boil, reduce to simmer and cook 45 minutes. The mixture should be kept at a simmer for the entire period. Season with salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. At this point the mixture should have cooked to a relish texture where the individual ingredients are not recognizable. Serve caponata as an appetizer with crackers or French bread croutons, as a vegetable or add sautéed ground meat and serve over pasta. Preserve any excess by packing it into hot, sterilized Mason jars and boiling the sealed jars for 15 minutes.