Saturday, October 6, 2007

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata

The intrigue of this lusty relish comes from the interplay of oven-roasted vegetables with sweet (raisins and chocolate) and pungent (anchovies, olives, capers, balsamic vinegar) ingredients. Caponata makes a great hors d'oeuvre simply spread on crackers or pita toasts, an extraordinary condiment for beef or lamb burgers, and a toothsome accompaniment to the roasted meats that warm up autumn menus.

  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved or chopped into bits
  • 3 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons drained capers
  • 5 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 1 cup Calamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 jar (5 1/2 ounces) pitted Spanish olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced, or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. The day before serving, place the raisins in a small saucepan and cover with the wine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, add the chocolate, and stir until just melted. Set the mixture aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F.

3. Brush the eggplant and the onion slices with the olive oil and place in separate large roasting pans. It is all right if the vegetables overlap a little bit. Roast the vegetables in the oven, turning once, until they are soft and lightly blistered, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool until easy to handle.

4. Meanwhile, drain the juice from the tomatoes into a large mixing bowl. Stir the raisin mixture into the juice. Chop the tomatoes and add along with the capers, anchovies, olives, and jalapeno chile.

5. Chop the roasted eggplant and onion into coarse chunks and add them to the tomato mixture. Finally add the vinegar and basil and season with salt and pepper. Cover and let the mixture mellow overnight in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature or slightly warmed. The relish will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Makes 12 cups

from Cold Weather Cooking

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