Eggplant Caponata

It feels like I’m always on the hunt for perfect appetizers. Appetizers and desserts, appetizers and desserts. Those are the dishes I’m generally assigned when it comes to attending parties or dinners with my family. I was super happy when my mom asked me to bring an appetizer to dinner with the family this weekend… and then told me exactly what to make! If there’s a bigger Ina Garten fan than my mother, I’m not sure who it is and my mom asked if I could make Ina’s eggplant caponata. She even gifted me with Ina’s newest book, How Easy is That? so, how could I say no? Plus, the eggplant caponata looked pretty amazing, so I had absolutely no problem making this dish.

This is one of those recipes where you look at the ingredient list and say, “Whoa! No thanks.” But don’t be intimidated. It’s a lot of ingredients, but the recipe is seriously simple as pie. Besides roasting the eggplant, it will take you no time at all. And if you really need to leave an ingredient or two out (like the capers), it’s probably not the end of the world. Just improvise!

In other fabulous news, I created an account so that we can finally have printable recipes here at We are not Martha! We’ve had tons of people ask if they could print our recipes out without all our step-by-step photos and endless commentary (I’m sure it’s not that you don’t like to hear us rambling… But just that printer ink is expensive, right?). So, now you can click Print this recipe! for your own copy to bring into the kitchen. But I still recommend reading our full posts since the step-by-step is where we give helpful hints and tell you more specifics :) Enjoy!!

Eggplant Caponata (serves about 8-10):
Adapted from Ina Garten
Print this Recipe!

• 1 large eggplant
• Olive oil
• 4 oz. jarred roasted red peppers, chopped
• 3/4 C large green olives, pitted and chopped
• 1 C chopped yellow onion
• 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
• 1.5 T garlic (4 cloves), minced
• 3 T parsley, minced
• 2 T pine nuts, toasted
• 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 T capers, drained
• 2 T tomato paste
• 1 T red wine vinegar
• 2 t kosher salt
• 1 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
• Toasted pita triangles for serving

(Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees)

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Start by lining a baking sheet with aluminum foil as you pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the eggplant on the pan and prick it with a fork in several places. Rub it with olive oil.

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Pop it in the oven for about 45-50 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft when pierced with a knife. This is really the only time-intensive part of the recipe. Once your eggplant is roasted, you’re smooth sailing.

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While my eggplant was roasting, I chopped all my other ingredients, like the onions, parsley, and garlic.

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Let the eggplant cool for a bit and then halve it. Peel and discard the skin.

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Put the eggplant, roasted red peppers, and olives in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.

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If you don’t have a food processor, a blender is probably fine.

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Move this mixture to a bowl.

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Now, heat 1 T of olive oil in a medium saute pan and add the onion and red pepper flakes.

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Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onion is just a bit brown. Now, add the garlic and cook for another minute.

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While my onion was cooking, I toasted my pine nuts. A word to the wise when toasting pine nuts- Keep your eye on them! They toast quickly and burning them is the worst. Especially since pine nuts can be a bit pricey.

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Add the onion and garlic mixture to the eggplant/pepper/olives. Also, add the parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix well.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a few hours so the flavors can develop. Serve at room temperature with toasted pita triangles or whatever you want!

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I toasted up both regular and wheat pita bread into chips for a nice little mix.

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This caponata was the absolute perfect medley of flavors. And I love that as far as dips go, this is pretty darn healthy… No mayo, no cheese (the horror!), just a bunch of veggies and delicious saltiness from olives, capers, etc. Oh, and a little bit of zing from the lemon.

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I’m definitely adding this to my appetizer rotation and my mom and I were talking about the fact that it would even be delicious atop some pasta or a chicken dish! Now I can’t wait to explore the rest of Ina’s new book :) I enjoyed this caponata with my family and my fabulous Aunt Judy who was visiting Boston. We had dinner at my sister and bro-in-law’s apartment and also enjoyed my mom’s amazing lasagna and my sister’s superb roasted veggies. Oh, and a decadent chocolate cake for dessert :)

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I hope you’re all having good weeks. Yesterday was Marathon Monday and Chels and I got to spend a couple hours with one of our favorite people, Jessi. She came in from Chicago to see her friend Gina run the marathon and it was so nice to hang out on the sidelines with her and catch up! As you can see, it was just a little bit windy :)

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What’s your favorite party appetizer?

[Sues]

32 Comments

  • i need to roast some eggplant – it’s the one thing i’ve never stuck in the oven, which is crazy because i put everything else in there!

    April 20, 2011 12:33 am
  • Erica said:

    What a great dish :) Love that your Mama gave you the cookbook too. I love eggplant. We had spinach and artichoke dip last night with homemade pita chips and cooked artichoke leaves- it was SO good! I also love hummus or fruit and fruit dip. Week has been good over here

    April 20, 2011 6:52 am
  • oh this is one of my favorite things to eat- it looks great!

    April 20, 2011 7:19 am
  • Sinea said:

    Mmmm…this sounds awesome. I can’t wait to try it. One big hit is clams casino dip served with Ritz crackers. I make a triple recipe and it’s gone before long.

    April 20, 2011 7:32 am
  • Kelly said:

    Wow, this sounds really good- and I love that you are doing the printable recipes now :) I love reading all your comments and pictures- then I usually just write everything down to take it to my kitchen but this will be easier haha. I also love eggplants so I have to make this soon!

    April 20, 2011 8:09 am
  • Shannon said:

    There are few things I love more than roasted eggplant. This looks the perfect app… so rustic and full of lots of great flavors!

    April 20, 2011 8:30 am
  • Michelle said:

    I get a little bored making it but my spinach and artichoke dip is regularly requested for parties!

    April 20, 2011 8:31 am
  • brandi said:

    I cannot WAIT for fresh eggplants this summer!

    April 20, 2011 9:27 am
  • A.Judy said:

    It certainly was delish…………..as were your sister’s roasted veggies, especially the fennel!
    A wonderful evening………..thank you!

    April 20, 2011 9:52 am
  • Monique said:

    This is definitely a keeper!
    I love the print feature! awesome.
    My favorite antipasto is from Otto Entoteca in the village of NYC. Its a blend similar to this with the sweet addition of grapes and sun dried tomatoes. It sounds weird but Its SO addicting!

    April 20, 2011 10:19 am
  • I don’t usually like eggplant but roasted and combined with lots of other good stuff, I can’t see anything wrong with it!

    April 20, 2011 10:27 am
  • Shannon said:

    love the idea of using it on pasta (or fish)! summer needs to hurry :)

    April 20, 2011 11:11 am
  • Karen said:

    This recipe looks amazing! I love all the flavors in it. Can’t wait to try it!

    April 20, 2011 11:41 am
  • I have that cookbook, and have this recipe bookmarked! It looks delicious, and glad to hear it was simpler than it looks!

    April 20, 2011 12:00 pm
  • Molly said:

    I became a little obsessed with a caponata recipe by Mario Batali this year. I actually went to buy eggplants at the market on Sunday but was surprised to discover that a) they were really teensy and b) they were nearly $5 a pound! I am hoping they’ll grow bigger, and with that, less expensive, as the spring and summer progresses. I can’t wait to give this recipe a shot.

    April 20, 2011 12:01 pm
  • Ann said:

    Appetizers and desserts are my favorite! And this looks fantastic. I am always trying to find a good balance between the cheese heavy appetizers (which, of course, are amazing), and the boring vegetables that get ignored. I will definitely be trying this soon. One of my favorite appetizers is hot crab dip seasoned with old bay, or bruschetta with goat cheese and fig jam, or a mixture of cream cheese and pesto, or bacon wrapped scallops….

    April 20, 2011 12:41 pm
  • Katie said:

    sounds like an amazing appetizer! and i love that you have the printable recipes too!

    April 20, 2011 12:46 pm
  • My pescatarian friend just sent me this recipe – I’m always looking for meat free recipes to make for her. This is next on the list! Thanks!

    April 20, 2011 12:55 pm
  • Jeannie said:

    I have not used eggplant as a dip before, only cooked it in curries and chilli paste, which is also very delicious…would love to try your delicious dip some day when I am not feeling too lazy:P

    April 20, 2011 1:02 pm
  • Yum! I LOVE eggplant! :) Just did an eggplany parm pizza! PS- R you ladies going to BlogHer food??

    April 20, 2011 2:20 pm
  • Juliana said:

    Wow, this eggplant dip looks delicious, since I love eggplants, will definitely give this a try…Hope you are having a great week :-)

    April 20, 2011 4:23 pm
  • emily said:

    the printer link is handy, but i will always read your entire posts because they are just too entertaining. :) this looks like an awesome appetizer.

    April 20, 2011 5:02 pm
  • Pam said:

    It looks and sounds fantastic… I really need to cook with more eggplant.

    April 20, 2011 5:55 pm
  • Eva said:

    Mmmm, that sounds delicious! I adore eggplants, they have such a great and subtle sweet flavor. Your photos are lovely, too :)

    April 20, 2011 6:12 pm
  • Eggplant is one of my very favorite vegetables. This pictorial is great!

    April 20, 2011 7:14 pm
  • That looks like the perfect party dip! I dont buy eggplant enough.

    April 20, 2011 8:11 pm
  • Megan said:

    I don’t think I’ve ever roasted an eggplant whole like that… so interesting. The caponata sounds so flavorful. I love appetizer recipes as well.

    April 20, 2011 10:49 pm
  • Great recipe! I like the combination of Mediterranean products! We’ll try! Thanks!

    April 21, 2011 2:43 am
  • lena said:

    hi sue, this looks awesome. I did something similiar few days ago but have not posted that up yet. Pine nuts is also a great idea!

    April 21, 2011 10:46 am
  • That looks delicious – such a great alternative to a regular dip, so hearty!

    April 21, 2011 1:57 pm
  • I love roasted eggplant – grew up eating a dip of roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon and tomatoes so I know I’d love this dish!
    How did you add the printable link? I want to add that to Russian Bites!

    April 29, 2011 10:14 am
  • Jasmin said:

    This is extremely tasty. I don’t have a food processor, so I used a blender instead – it’s definitely more of a spread that way, but the flavors are still amazing!

    August 22, 2011 1:43 pm

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