Pasta Caponata is inspired by the Sicilian dish made with chopped eggplant, olives and tomatoes in a sweet and sour sauce. It’s a light an easy meal that’s vegan and gluten-free!
Ciao mi amori! How about we take a trip to Italy today?
I figured it would be a nice way to close out summertime.
I haven’t been to Italy myself but it’s one place I often dream of going. Especially now that I’m being taunted by Giada’s new show, Giada in Italy. Have you seen it yet?
She has the most adorable little kitchen overlooking the breathtaking Almalfi Coast. Ugh, I die every time I watch it! I can only imagine how amazing it would be to cook a meal in that kitchen.
While I might not be able to physically be in an Italian kitchen right now, I’m happy enough to be able to bring their flavors into my own. And with all of the gorgeous summer produce upon us, Caponata is the perfect thing to make!
I worked in an Italian restaurant all throughout college but surprisingly I had never heard of Caponata until recently paging through Green Kitchen Travels.
If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a Sicilian dish made with eggplant and tomatoes and it’s served with a sauce that incorporates both sweet and sour flavors. It’s typically served as an appetizer or a side dish but it can easily be made into a pasta sauce.
I made a few subtle changes to the recipe from the book, using lemon juice for a light tart flavor to pair with the sweetness from the apple cider vinegar. But for me, the main highlight of the sauce is the fresh vegetables and herbs.
The parsley and fresh mint give it a light and refreshing flavor that pairs wonderfully with the juicy tomatoes and tangy olives.
We enjoyed it with Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice and Quinoa Spaghetti but I’ve also instructed how to prepare it with zucchini noodles for a grain-free option. And if you use zucchini noodles, that makes it a one pot meal which I know we all love!
1 medium size eggplant, cut into 1” cubes
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1” cubes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
5 large ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup green olives
1 large handful parsley, finely chopped
1 small handful fresh mint, finely chopped
16 ounces pasta of choice (or zucchini noodles)
salt & pepper to taste
more fresh parsley and mint + grated fresh parmesan for serving (optional)
- Start by warming the olive oil in a large pot of medium heat then add the eggplant to the pot along with the oregano, chili flakes and salt. Cook for 5 minutes, until light golden brown on the edges. Then add the garlic, the onion and another tablespoon of olive oil (if needed) and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- If serving with pasta, start boiling the water now (with a pinch of salt for flavor).
- Next add the red bell pepper, tomatoes, olives, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and fresh herbs and stir together. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant feels soft. Meanwhile, cook the pasta as directed.
- Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the pot. Stir everything together until well combined. Alternatively, if you want to use zucchini noodles, add them to the pot, cover and cook everything over low to medium heat for about 5-7 minutes, until the noodles are tender.
- Lastly, taste the pasta and add salt, if needed. Garnish with fresh herbs and fresh grated parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy!