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
- Position two racks in the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- Transfer the eggplant mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the cheese, bread crumbs, and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve warm, spreading the caponata on toasted bread.