Every time my dad and step mom come into town, they drag me to Il Fornaio in Beverly Hills for dinner. Ok, so they don’t exactly drag me–Il Fornaio is super tasty, pretty fancy, is surprisingly very accommodating to my vegan self, and–best of all–they foot the bill. The menu changes often but we always, always order caponata for the table. Sometimes this amazing eggplant appetizer isn’t on the menu, but the restaurant must keep a secret stash of it somewhere for people like us who cannot stand to have an Italian meal without it.
When the farmer’s market was teeming with gorge eggplants this week I knew there was a big batch of caponata in my future. Most caponatas usually have a few more ingredients, such as red peppers and capers, but I just used what I had on hand. Try your hardest not to eat the whole batch right away–this stew gets even more delicious after sitting in a fridge overnight. It’s usually served cold and tastes great as an alternative to bruschetta, but I like it so much I just throw it on a plate and call it a meal. Enjoy!
1 large eggplant
1 medium onion, sliced into short strips
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can tomatoes
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to pierce the eggplant all over. Create an aluminum foil cradle for the eggplant and roast in oven for 40 minutes. While the eggplant roasts, saute the garlic and onions in the olive oil in a pan over medium-low heat until the onions soften. Add the tomatoes (along with any juice), the red wine vinegar, and the sugar to the pan.
Remove eggplant from the oven and cool until it can be handled. Cut into small chunks (leave the skin on) and add to the pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer the mixture for another 20 minutes. Remove from heat and chill overnight.
Makes 4 side-dish servings or 2 main course servings.