Sal Scognamillo’s Eggplant Caponata

My grandmother Concetta would start her array of antipasti with homemade eggplant caponata. Whenever I spread caponata on bread, I can’t help but think of those days in Queens. When I make it now, I roast the eggplants, a change from the traditional frying method. Some people serve caponata chilled, but our family prefers it warm.

From Patsy’s Italian Family Cookbook by Sal Scognamillo:

2 medium eggplants (about 1 pound each), trimmed, cut into ½” cubes
Olive Oil, as needed
2 cups tomato sauce
½ cup coarsely chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
8 anchovy filets in oil, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons nonpareil capers, rinsed
½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/3 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced and toasted in a broiler or on a grill

  1. Position two racks in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Spread the eggplant on 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle and toss the eggplant with oil to coat evenly. Roast, occasionally turning the eggplant, until the cubes are tender and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  3. Bring the tomato sauce to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Stir in olives, anchovies, and capers. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, to blend the flavors for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the eggplant and simmer for 2 minutes more.
  4. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the cheese, bread crumbs, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve warm, spreading the caponata on toasted bread.