Caponata is the Italian version of the classic French eggplant and tomato dish, ratatouille. Like any recipe, there are a bunch of versions, most of which include capers and olives. Strictly speaking, neither of those are Paleo friendly, and frankly, I don’t particularly like capers anyway. From a flavor standpoint, the caponata I’ve had that has both capers and olives is too salty and makes your mouth pucker. Thankfully, Mario Batali has a recipe which omits all non-Paleo friendly ingredients and adds balance and depth of flavor. The recipe below makes a few adaptations and is designed to be easier in that you can cook everything in one pot. It also swaps expensive pine nuts for cheaper and locally in season pecans. I did, however, add a mint sauce to cut the spiciness of the recipe, which I had originally made per Mario’s instructions with 1 tablespoon of crushed pepper instead of what I’m recommending below, 1/2 tablespoon. Enjoy!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 3 tablespoons pecans, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons currants, sub golden raisins if necessary
- 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants, whatever gets you to about 4 cups
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, natural or Dutch processed is fine
- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup water as needed, see below
mix the two ingredients below together, or place in a blender.
- 1/4 cup mint, finely chopped. Or, if you don’t have mint, use parsley. Different flavor, but also very good
- 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt or if you don’t want the dairy, use olive oil
- In a large sautee pan with reasonably high walls, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- When hot, add the onion, red pepper, currants and pecans. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic and sautee for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent.
- Add the eggplant, cinnamon, cocoa, and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, thyme, and balsamic vinegar.
- Bring to a high simmer, and cook for 5 minutes
- Depending on the liquid content in the eggplant and crushed tomatoes, you may need to add a little bit of water to prevent stuff from sticking to the bottom of the pan. If you do need to add water, just add a little bit at a time.
- After the 5 minutes, turn heat to low, and cook covered for 15 minutes. Open once during this time to make sure nothing is burning on the bottom of the pan.
- Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
- Plate with mint sauce and mint leaves.