I’m not sure exactly how to categorize this dish. It’s not really a salad- too juicy and no green or grain to bind it together. It’s not really a salsa- too substantial. But let’s throw semantics aside and say this: whatever we want to call it, it is tasty and it is something that would be great on bruschetta, in a sandwich, on a pizza (which I am sorely tempted to do), or just eaten with a fork, as I did the other day for a highly satisfactory grad school lunch.
One of my resolutions, not associated with 2012 per se but just with trying to get my act together and be more of a grown up, it to be better at using up the odds and ends in my fridge instead of tossing them when they inevitably rot. (Any tips are welcome; I get the sense some of my fellow contributors are real pros at this). I had some eggplant, tomato, and olive that needed to make their way into something, and I had some roasted garlic on hand, too.
A little Googling and a little MacGyvering, and I had this play on pantry caponata- not all the ingredients caponata would usually have, but close enough. Even with winter tomatoes, I liked it a lot and can’t wait to make it with more flavorful tomatoes when they are in season this summer. With an assist from my awesome Panini maker for the grilled eggplant, this dish came together in minutes. (If you don’t have a Panini machine, George Foreman, or grill pan, you could just use two skillets to press the eggplant on the stovetop.)
Grilled Eggplant with Caponata
Inspired, as usual, by Smitten Kitchen
(I’ve listed my amounts here, but as veggies and olives can vary in size, what’s more important is that your ratio of tomato to olive to eggplant is roughly the same)
- 2 medium eggplants, sliced thin into ½ in thick rounds
- 4 cloves roasted garlic (I popped some cloves in their skins into a 400F oven with my brussel sprouts for 30 min or so)
- 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped (maybe ½ cup in volume?)
- 6 olives (I used black), diced
- 1 T olive oil
- 3 T red wine vinegar
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes (I found this was essential to the flavor; if you think you can hack it, be generous with your pinch!)
Place eggplants on grill and get ‘em nice and browned. (Depending on your grilling method, you may need to brush them with oil. I grilled them dry.)
To make the caponata: in a bowl, mash and whisk the roasted garlic with the oil and red wine vinegar. Add tomatoes and their juice, olives, and pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings. If your olives are not super salty, you may want to add salt but mine provided enough on their own.
Dice the grilled eggplant and combine with the caponata. Cleaning out the crisper drawer can sometimes taste surprisingly good.