We eat so much grilled eggplant during the summer (thanks to the nice folks at Hedlin Family Farms) it’s a little embarrassing. Sometimes we dust it with spices first, but usually we just dress it with olive oil, salt and pepper, grill it till it poofs up and turns golden, then eat it in huge heaps with lamb kebabs or whatever else is on the grill that day. In an attempt to do something different with our weekly poundage of eggplant (plus some of the tomatoes which are beginning to take over the deck), I came up with this caponata. And we’ve made it twice in one week, so I guess it worked pretty well.
My approach here is to get all the ingredients except the eggplant mixed together in a big bowl, so all I have to do is take a cutting board down by the grill and dice up the eggplants as they come off the heat. Then I dump them into the dressing and mix everything up together. The flavors sit and blend while we grill the next part of the meal.
This is all eminently adjustable, but here’s what I added to my latest batch:
1. over two pounds of eggplant, grilled and chopped
2. about a cup of garlic-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
3. all the kalamata olives that were left in the jar, maybe a third of a cup? Also roughly chopped
4. several handfuls of ripe Sungold and Stupice tomatoes from the vines on the deck, halved or quartered depending on size
5. a spoonful or two of capers
6. a good glug of olive oil
7. several good glugs of red wine vinegar
8. a pinch of kosher salt
You could easily add other stuff here according to your own taste and what’s in the fridge at the moment. Onions would be nice, especially grilled, and so would zucchini. I don’t think fresh herbs would go amiss, either – I tried topping some of the caponata with sprigs of fresh basil and that was very nice.
To serve, I can recommend fish: we’ve eaten this with planked salmon and butter-roasted halibut, both excellent. It’s also lovely topping fresh sheep or goat cheese on a bit of baguette, or simply spread on crackers. And I’ll bet it would make a spectacular pizza topping.
I think this calls for more experimentation. What do you put in your caponata?