Caponata is a classic dish from Italy – the eggplant soaks up the flavors of the salty and sweet ingredients and is a pleasing, flavor-filled way to eat lots of this healthful vegetable.  There are additional health benefits in this recipe from the fresh, in-season garlic, the rice wine vinegar, and the cocoa powder.  August is eggplant season with plenty available at the farmer’s markets.

Caponata is tastiest served at room temperature as a topping on crusty bread – perfect for picnics and summer entertaining (our favorite – slice some good artisan bread, brush on some olive oil and grill until lightly toasted).  Caponata is also eaten as a salad or side dish or as a topping like salsa on meats or fish.

2 medium eggplants
½ c. olive oil
3 stalks celery – diced
½  large onion – diced
3 oz. capers
1 Tbsp. garlic – fresh, chopped
½ c. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 c. tomato – diced
½ c. green olives – diced
½ c. kalamata olives – diced
1 Tbsp. cocoa  powder (unsweetened)
2 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Slice the eggplant lengthwise in ¼” slices and grill just until tender.  When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, dice.
  • Combine tomatoes, olives, cocoa and sugar to have ready for final step
  • In a large sauté pan over medium high heat, cook the onions and celery in the olive oil, until tender – about 2 minutes.
  • Add the diced eggplant, garlic and capers. Cook for an additional 2 minutes, and then add the vinegar.
  • Allow to reduce for approximately one minute before adding the tomatoes & olive mixture.  Toss to coat.  Taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.
  • Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl.  Allow to marinate for 2-4 hours before serving.  This can be made the day before – it holds well for several days.

By Chef Harrison Schailey
Harrison’s Wine Grill & Catering
1221 East College Ave (in the Hilton Garden Inn)
State College, PA  16801   814-237-4422
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