Eggplant Caponata: Amazing. Just try it!


I met Steven Satterfield from Miller Union Restaurant in Atlanta 3 years ago and fell in love with the simplicity and deliciousness of his food; so much so that it has become my dining room when I am in Atlanta. His cuisine focuses on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients with a Southern twist. It was the twist—all these southern vegetables prepared in time honored ways that I do not see in California – that hooked me.

Steven came out to the West Sonoma Coast last August to cook for our annual West of West Wine Festival. We spent a week cooking and eating together as we also teamed up for dinners for auction winners and customers at our barn house. One day while chopping garlic he said he loved eggplant. I shrugged in response. Okay, I know I am supposed to love all vegetables but only in rare cases—often when it is handled by someone of middle eastern descent—do I ever get excited by eggplant. Steven was set to change my mind. And he did. I raved as I scooped mouthfuls of his eggplant caponata at the West of West Grand Dinner. My table wiped out our plate and started hunting for lonely dishes sitting unrequited at other tables. Here are a few words about the dish from Steven. You will find this recipe in the cookbook Steven will release next year.

— Andy Peay


“Caponata is a Southern Italian eggplant relish, sometimes savory with capers and olives, sometimes sweet with raisins and sugar.  Always sweet and sour, it can be served hot, cold or room temperature, and the flavor profile depends on which region of Italy your from. This is my bastardized version of how I think they would make it in the South.  I like eating it cold on toast, warm as a side dish, or underneath griddle chicken.  It’s delicious with fresh herbs like basil, parsley and mint.

I am fascinated by people’s reaction to eggplant.  If you ask someone what they think about eggplant, most folks reply ‘meh’.  Translation:  I don’t love it and I don’t seek it out.  This recipe is a game changer.  If you think you don’t like eggplant, make this and get back to me.”

— Steven Satterfield


Main Ingredients

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 6 cups 3/4-inch diced eggplant (about 1 large or 3 small globe eggplants) skin on
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided use
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 cup small-diced yellow onion (1/4-inch pieces)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups diced ripe tomato (1/2-inch pieces), juices and seeds included
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsps. capers
  • Chiffonade of parsley and mint leaves for garnish

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the eggplant in a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Transfer eggplant to a wire rack over a pan or paper towels and set bowl aside. Allow salted eggplant to sit for 30 minutes.
  2. Do not rinse eggplant. Transfer eggplant back to the bowl and toss with ¼ cup olive oil. Spread the eggplant in a 2-inch deep roasting pan and cook until slightly caramelized but still intact, with a creamy texture on the inside, almost sticky–anywhere from 45-60 minutes. (Since some pieces will be a little smaller than others, try a random sampling across the pan.)
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, thyme and chile flakes with 1 ½ teaspoons salt until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and remaining 1 ½ teaspoon salt .Stir for 3 minutes. Add the raisins, vinegar, honey, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Return to a simmer and allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the sauce from the pan over the eggplant and stir to combine. Allow caponata to cool and rest for about 1 hour. Serve at room temperature or reheat before serving; top with fresh parsley and mint. It is even better served the next day.
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