I totally broke my own rules for this one but I had cravings that I just couldn’t deny. Why does this dish break my rules? Because I bought multiple vegetables that were out of season and wildly over priced. Moral of the story: you can probably make this dish for far less than I did if you wait till summer!
Eggplant caponata is usually eaten as an appetizer but I really wanted the super veggie packed eggplant relish over some pasta. The vegetable mix is cooked down with a variety of sweet, salty and acidic ingredients to make a delightful relish with a very complex flavor. You can put many things in caponata but I chose eggplant, bell peppers, fire roasted tomatoes and capers. I actually bought some olives to go in there too but they completely slipped my mind. Next time I think I’ll try cooking down a few anchovy filets with the onion and garlic for a little extra umami oomph.
This makes a huge batch and if you don’t want to eat it all with pasta, you can dip crackers, toasted french bread or even make it into a panini with some fresh mozzarella. Oh, and I bet this would pair wonderfully with some creamy goat cheese… Oh no, the wheels in my head are turning now!
Eggplant Caponata Pasta
Eggplant Caponata Pasta
- 3 Tbsp olive oil ($0.33)
- 1 med. yellow onion ($0.54)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- 1 medium eggplant ($3.49)
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper ($1.75)
- 1 medium green bell pepper ($0.99)
- 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes ($1.04)
- 3 oz tomato paste ($0.25)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar ($0.16)
- 2 Tbsp sugar ($0.02)
- 1/4 cup water ($0.00)
- 1/2 Tbsp dried basil ($0.07)
- 1 Tbsp capers, optional ($0.33)
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
- 1/4 bunch fresh parsley ($0.22)
- 15 oz pasta ($1.98)
- to taste salt and pepper ($0.05)
- Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Place them in a large pot with 3 Tbsp of olive oil and cook over medium heat until softened (about 5 minutes).
- While the onion and garlic are cooking, wash the eggplant and cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch cubes. Add the eggplant cubes to the pot with the onion and garlic and continue cooking. Add a pinch of salt to help the moisture come out of the eggplant.
- Wash and dice the yellow bell pepper and green bell pepper. Add to the pot with the other vegetables and continue cooking until all of the vegetables have begun to soften (5-10 minutes).
- Add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, water, basil, crushed red pepper and capers to the pot. Give everything a good stir. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper as needed (I added about 1/2 tsp of salt). Let the mixture simmer over low heat for about 15 minutes to further break down the vegetables.
- While the mixture simmers, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (boil for 7-10 minutes). Drain the cooked pasta in a colander.
- Roughly chop about 1/4 bunch of parsley. When the caponata is finished cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley. Add the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Serve hot.
The eggplant caponata mixture can also be served as an appetizer with toast or crackers.
Step By Step Photos
Chop the onion and mince the garlic. Cook both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until softened.
I chose my vegetables based on color… I wanted the full range: purple, yellow, green and red.
Dice the eggplant and add to the pot. Continue to cook.
While the eggplant, onion and garlic cook, dice the bell peppers and then add them to the pot. Cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes more or until all of the vegetables begin to soften. You can see here that by the time I added the bell peppers, the eggplant has already begun to soften and darken in color.
Add the fire roasted tomatoes and tomato paste. This was half a small (6 oz.) can of tomato paste. Don’t forget to freeze the rest so you’ll have it on hand the next time you need some!
Also add the red wine vinegar, sugar and water.
Give everything a good stir and then add the basil, crushed red pepper and capers. Stir again and then adjust the salt and pepper. I added a half teaspoon more of salt to balance the sugar and vinegar.
Let the mixture simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes to further soften the vegetables. In the mean time, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box.
While the caponata is simmering and the pasta is cooking, roughly chop some fresh parsley. After the caponata has finished cooking, turn off the heat and stir in the fresh parsley.
Stir the cooked and drained pasta into the caponata mixture. Serve hot.
Top with cheese and more fresh parsley if desired.