From an erstwhile eggplant hater to making so many dishes with eggplant is quite a progress for me. I think eggplant is quite an adult taste and the smoky taste of roasted eggplant, even more so. I hardly know anyone who liked eggplant as a kid. Both S and me LURVE anything to do with a char grilled eggplant, and I can list at least 10 recipes in my regulars that start with this step. One of them is a caponata.
Though traditionally, it doesn't call for roasting the vegetable, I like using a mix of one roasted eggplant and one chopped as it is. I usually use this as a filling inside a hot dog roll to make a sub-like sandwich - along with either tomatoes or pickled jalapenos and cheese if I'm feeling very generous. If I don't have bread on hand, I like to toss this with penne and that tastes quite good too.
Here's my version of eggplant caponata, which is somewhat different from the original recipes, but it tastes good all the same.
Time taken - Under 30 minutes Makes enough for 12-14 sandwiches or in pasta for 8 people You may halve the recipe, but leftovers will stay in the fridge for around a week and you can have quick fix meals with this on hand.
2 large eggplants
3 tbsp olive oil
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chopped whites and greens of spring onions (scallions)
3 large tomatoes chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chilli flakes
4-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Handful of fresh basil
Place on eggplant on the flame of a gas stove directly. Keep turning the sides until the skin is charred all over. Do not overdo this because we want to chop the flesh later and not mash it - so the eggplant should still be able to keep its shape somewhat. Once this cools, peel off the skin and roughly chop this into cubes. Keep aside. This will be used towards the end as it needs no further cooking.
Chop the other eggplant into small cubes with the skin on. Keep aside.
In a large pot, heat olive oil and throw in the minced garlic. After a few seconds, add the chopped spring onions. Saute for 3-4 minutes, until wilted.
Add the chopped raw eggplant first, sprinkle salt and saute along with the garlic and greens. After 3-4 minutes, keep this covered for 5 minutes or so until the vegetable is almost cooked. Add the tomatoes, herbs, chilli flakes balsamic vinegar and on a medium flame let this cook till tomatoes soften down and the vegetables come together.
Add remaining salt, chopped roasted eggplant and fresh basil. Toss well and check for salt and chilli, adding some more if you prefer so.
To assemble the sub, slice the hot dog roll in the middle, but keeping the two slices attached. Spoon a generous quantity of caponata between the two, stuffing it tightly. Also stuff in a couple of slices of tomato or pickled jalapeno and some bits of sliced cheese and grill on a hot buttered skillet or in a hot oven till crispy outside.
You can even have this as a cold sandwich. Makes for a good couch dinner and leftovers make a filling breakfast.
[if you are wondering what took me so long to come back on my blog, please read post below :)]