Vegan Appetizer Recipes: Eggplant Caponata

September 3, 2015
Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I threw a picnic in Central Park. Confession: I'd never really, really hosted a party before where I had to prepare tons of food for a crowd. But I took a leaf from Mary's vegan party planning tips, which made things a little easier (yes, I did use mismatched cotton napkins- so cute!). I planned it to be "baguette and spreads" kind of theme, and one of the dips I made was this eggplant caponata. Sweet, sour, cool, and so savory, eggplant caponata is one of my top spreads ever. My sister, who is an amazing cook herself, said that it was better than hers! :) There are a couple of key things to remember when cooking this dish: 1) always salt the eggplant to get the bitterness out. Slice the eggplant into 3/4" rounds and lay them on couple of plates, then generously salt them. After 15 minutes or so, dab the "sweat" from the eggplant with a paper towel. This gets rid of the bitterness that's present in about 1/4 of eggplants (but hard to tell, so just play it safe and salt). 2) Always add the vinegar after the garlic has been cooked for at least 3 minutes. When raw garlic meets high acid, it turns blue. Don't ask how I know. 3) always chill completely before enjoying. In fact, the longer it sits in the fridge, the more the flavors mingle together. Enjoy this dish with bread (focaccia would be nice), warm pita, or even over polenta (how I ate it for last night--soo delicious!).
Vegan Appetizer Recipes: Eggplant Caponata

Vegan Appetizer Recipes: Eggplant Caponata

Recipe Type: Allergen Free Appetizers
utensils YIELDS 4 servings
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  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 10-12 olives (I used Mediterranean mixed), pitted and chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 medium to large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (or few sprigs of fresh thyme, stem removed)
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (I use condensed kind in a tube)
  • 2 tsp raw brown sugar
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Directions

1. Prep the eggplant according to the salting method described above. After dabbing away the bitter juices, cut into 3/4" cubes. Set aside. 2. In a large saute pan with lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When pan is hot, add onions and saute for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may put the lid on to speed the process. 2. Add eggplant to the pan. Saute for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally, with the lid on to steam and cook the eggplant faster. 3. If the bottom is sticking, lower the heat a little bit. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, and garlic. Salt generously. Stir and saute for another 10 minutes. 4. Add olives, capers, herbs, sugar, and red wine and stir together. Lower the heat to "low" and cook, covered, for another 10-12 minutes. 5. Check to see if all eggplant pieces are cooked through and soft--some pieces will have smashed, and others will still be in cube shape. Cook until all pieces are soft, then take off the heat. Chill completely--I take it to room temperature and then put in the fridge. The longer it sits, the better it will taste, but once it's completely cool it's ready to eat. Bon appetit! :)
More vegan appetizer recipes: Rainbow Spring Rolls with Carrot Ginger Sauce
Spinach Artichoke Dip
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__ Photo: Juhea Kim

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Originally from Portland, Oregon, Juhea now lives in NYC with her Oreo cookie cat, Zeus. When she is not writing, she enjoys running in Central Park, yoga, and teaching Barre classes. Follow Juhea on Instagram @peacefuldumpling, Google+ and Pinterest.

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