After eating eggplant caponata almost everyday when I owned a Italian restaurant in San Francisco, you would think I was done with eggplant caponata. But I’m not and with good reason. It’s such a great transition dish from summer to fall with its warm spices & sweet cocoa powder infused in summer tomatoes and eggplant. Also if you don’t have a night shade issue, eggplant is a major cancer fighter! Here is my recipe.
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons raisins
1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 cup basic tomato sauce
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 sprigs mint, chopped
In a large 12 to 14-inch saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
Add the eggplant, honey, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes.
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.