Inspired by Sicilian Caponata made with chopped eggplant, olives and tomatoes in a sweet and sour sauce. It’s a light an easy summer meal that can easily be made vegan and gluten-free!
Ciao mi amori! How about we take a trip to Italy today?
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 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-size eggplant (or zucchini), cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 5 roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced
- ½ cup green olives, chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes, optional
- 8 ounces pasta of choice, use brown rice or red lentil spaghetti for GF/grain-free alternative
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- ⅛ cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- ½ cup grated parmesan, for serving
- salt & pepper , to taste
- In a large skillet or pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until light golden brown on the edges. Next, add the onion and garlic, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
- To the pot, add the chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, olives, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, oregano and chili flakes. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant feels fork tender.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta as directed on package (this will vary depending on the type of pasta you use). Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the pot with the vegetables.
- Serve the cooked pasta garnished with fresh parsley, mint, grated parmesan, and salt & pepper, as desired. Enjoy!