The mouth-watering smell of tomatoes and eggplant go great tucked inside a baguette with mozzarella and fresh basil or with polenta. The flavor gets even better in the fridge, so pack it for lunch, too.
By Natalie McLaury
This combination of tomatoes and eggplant and olives produced the most alluring scent in my kitchen that afternoon. When the caponata had finished cooking on the stovetop, I burnt my mouth numerous times because I couldn’t resist stealing bite after bite while I waited for it to cool so that I could let it sit for a day before turning it into the sandwiches you see pictured.
Although we loved the mixture atop a baguette cut into little sandwiches and topped with mozzarella and fresh basil, I won’t blame you if you skip all of that and eat this plain! A big batch of this (I doubled it!) could go so many different ways—serve it over polenta, with flatbread, or mixed in with your favorite pasta. The flavor only deepens after some time in the fridge, making it an excellent recipe to make ahead and eat different ways throughout the week!
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into small cubes (approximately 4 cups)
- ½ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 4 oz white mushrooms, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- baguette, sliced into small sandwiches, to serve
- shredded mozzarella, to serve
- fresh basil, to serve
- In a large pot over medium-heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add eggplant, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.
- Add the olives, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Season again with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding a tablespoon or two of water if mixture starts to get too thick or stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Allow caponata to cool (can be made ahead of time and reheated). Spoon mixture onto sandwiches, top with mozzarella, and broil (if desired) until cheese melts. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately.