We went to a dinner party last week and ate the most elegant dinner, courtesy of my wonderful friend Judith, who mixes a mean martini, makes magic with shallots, has a good knife, and knows how to use it. I highly recommend you give some thought to adding this eggplant caponata to your upcoming holiday celebrations. It’s quite spectacular.
2 large/3 small-med eggplants (with smallest end seam you can find); diced, salted, patted dry
1 cup pitted briny green olives, chopped
1⁄4 cup capers
4 celery stalks in 1/2-inch slices
2 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large onion, coarsely diced
ad lib with more fresh vegetables from the garden, e.g., 1-2 cups each peppers and zucchini
1⁄4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced in chiffonade
3 cloves garlic, minced
3⁄4 cup pine nuts, toasted
4-6 Tbsp. olive oil
Prepare all the vegetables as above. Salt the eggplant cubes liberally and leave for 30-60 minutes on the counter on a cutting board or cookie sheet. Rinse, dry well with paper towel.
Toss liberally with olive oil and salt. Spread out vegetables in a single layer on 1-2 cookie sheets, making sure that they have breathing room. None should be touching.
Bake 35-40 minutes at 375F until brown and caramelized. Remove from oven.
Whisk together tomato paste and red wine vinegar in a large bowl until smooth. Add garlic, olives, capers, pine nuts, and basil. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the warm, roasted veggies into the bowl and toss well. Serves a small crowd.