Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eggplant Caponata

While A sat waiting for me outside the doctor's office flipping through various 'health' magazines, he watched this recipe on a Mario Batali show on Food Network. He, very obviously, ditched the magazine and concentrated on the show. We came back from the hospital and A immediately went and bought an eggplant. In true bourgeois homes style, he left for work asking me to prepare the Eggplant Caponata as shown by Batali, one of A's favourite chefs. While I am an eggplant afficionado, I saw that this recipe consisted of tomato and thought it will be like another Baingan-wali sabzi ;) But, boy, oh boy! Was I surprised or what! This recipe is a winner (inspite of the horrible pics!) and came out perfectly delicious and it is a regular now.

Without any further ado, this is the recipe. Here it is for your convenience (Thanks Nags!)

  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup basic tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped

1. In a large 12 to 14-inch saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.

2. Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

3. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.

Basic tomato sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved

The changes I made to the recipe, apart making it for 2 people? Here you go:

1. More cocoa :P

2. Less tomato/tomato sauce and store-bought

3. Regular white vinegar instead of balsamic vinegar.

4. Used a regular white onion and not a Spanish onion

We ate it with some home-made bread, the recipe of which I may post later.

I thought this could very well serve as a great pasta sauce if thinned out with some more tomatoes or make it more liquidy with a little stock or pasta's starchy water. We initialy wanted to make a bruschetta of this and so the thick consistency! This is not an exotic recipe for all the hype in the name. Do try and let us know how it turned out!


Nags said...

Yes the name does sound fancy but anything will eggplant in it gets my attention! i dont have some of the ingredients required so will need to shop before i can try this.

suggestion: copy-paste the recipe to your blog so that people don't have to go another click to get it. Its great to link to the source though. In fact, its mandatory!

Cham said...

Sounds more interesting with cocoa as you said if it is slightly thin , would be a great subst to the plain pasta sauce...The pict looks great N :)

A_and_N said...

@ Nags: Corrected. Sorry about that.

@ Cham: That is a generous compliment :D Thanks!

SMN said...

Hooo that looks so yum! im a huge eggplant fan would love to try this out.

Jayashree said...

In the pic, it looks like baingan bartha....and I thought maybe its just an Italianised bartha...but the recipe couldn't be more different. Sounds good.

Shreya said...

great try at the dish...I've not heard of it before, but it sounds good:-)

aquadaze said...

I love eggplant and this looks yum. BTW, do post the bread soon, it is kinda stealing the show in the pic!!

Asha said...

Hahaha!! Sounds like me!!
While I am waiting for Tushar to get his Orthodontics checked out, I flip thru' all the cookery mags there, and note those too! ;P

Eggplants are welcome anytime here, looks delicious! :))

PG said...

It no ways looks bad rather very tempting!

Nithya Praveen said...

Never heard abt it before...looks neat...bookmarked!

Raaga said...

I love eggplant... even though I can't eat it too often.. gives me heartburn. But I think I shall try this...the bharta type baingan will work, right?

Aparna said...

This eggplant sounds exotic and interesting. I like eggplant in very avatars and am a little hesitant about trying others.
Maybe I should see if this is one I will like.:)

sra said...

I've always wondered how to get that look - that tomatoey red, I only ever see it in Italian/continental restaurants.

Usha said...

I love eggplants and love Italian food + the cocoa in this intrigues me, I am hoping to try this soon!

DEESHA said...

I love eggplants, this is soo new, never heard of this, sounds delicious though.

U from jayanagar too .. Great !! .. My parents live in 9th block, wht abt ur parents??

Dibs said...

this baigan has all kinds of interesting ingredients! Cocoa too?!

How are you A & N? Long time since I was here. I am making Pitle today, and your james bond style Pavakkai Pitle brought me here. I see I have quite a few recipes to catch up with!

Uj said...

Anything with eggplant makes my hubby happy.. got to try this for him :D

Suma Rajesh said...

eggplant is my i would lovur recipe..looks tempting..

Sia said...

i agree with nags. anything with eggplants gets my undivided attention ;)

Cynthia said...

I am not a big fan of eggplant but your description makes me want to eat this dish.

Cynic in Wonderland said...

Is it not?

PG said...

something awaiting you at my blog. Please come and pick it!
BTW, it is the second one from me. :)

A_and_N said...

@ SMN: Do try and let us know!

@ Jayashree: I know! I felt the same initially too.

@ Shreya: It IS good :D

@ Aquadaze: Will do so!

@ Asha: Am sure yours will turn out much better!

@ Nithya: Thank you!

@ Raaga: Sorry for getting back late. Yes, the Bharta type baingan will work. In fact, that is the Italian Eggplant :)

@ Aparna: You can eat this with the myriad of breads that you bake :)

@ Sra: I think its the store bought tomato sauce, Sra.

@ Deesha: OMG, mine live in 7th block!!

@ Usha: Try, try! Its yummy :)

@ Dibs: I know! We took a break for sometime and now we're back. Hope all is well, Dibs :)

@ Uj: Hope he likes it!

@ Suma: Then this is a must-try!

@ Cynthia: I had the same fears too!

@ Sia: Oh, you can make this in a flash :)

@ Cyn: It is, it is ;)

@ PG: Will acknowledge the award in the next post, PG. Am so sorry about the previous one. And thanks for the compliments about the dish!