About a month ago we had a week without kids. We made the most of our time which included going to a Sonoma wine dinner. I tried to recreate one of the dishes at home but I wasn’t happy with my first attempt. I made a caponata and even though it had a traditional flavor it just wasn’t what I wanted. I took another crack at it and now I am very pleased with the result. This is not a caponata, just a simple eggplant agrodolce (agrodolce means sour and sweet in Italian). I recommend serving it as an appetizer with some toasted bread. Delish!
A couple tips. First, how to choose a good eggplant. Am I perfect at picking out an eggplant? No. But, I have learned a few things that will help. Small, young eggplant are sweeter than larger eggplant. Pick an eggplant with skin that is shiny, smooth and free of blemishes. It should give a little if you press it but not be mushy at all. I have heard you should pick an eggplant light for its size (fewer seeds) and I’ve heard you should pick an eggplant heavy for its size (hasn’t lost its water/dried out). I always pick an eggplant that is light for its size; I’m fine with it. If you have better luck with heavy, then go for it. Although #OdeToSummer #SummerFinale posts are officially over, you can still find really good eggplant. Get some!
The recipe is not vegan as written but it is easily converted to a vegan recipe by swapping the honey for sugar, maple syrup or brown rice syrup. I never would have known about that last option but I have a vegan expert on call. Thanks Les!
1 large Eggplant or 2-3 small Eggplants, small dice
2 T Olive Oil (plus more for serving)
1½ T Tomato Paste
2 T Red Wine Vinegar
2 T Honey
3 T Pine Nuts, toasted
Put diced eggplant in a colander over a bowl and liberally sprinkle with salt; toss so the eggplant is evenly coated.
Let eggplant sit for at least 15 minutes.
Rinse the eggplant with cold water.
Squeeze handfuls of eggplant at a time to get the water out (like squeezing out a sponge) and place on a dry kitchen towel.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
When the oil is shiny add the eggplant, sprinkle with some pepper and toss with a wooden spoon until evenly coated.
Sauté the eggplant for about 15-20 minutes, tossing occasionally until the eggplant is evenly charred and soft (you want a little char on the eggplant).
Add the tomato paste, mix into the eggplant and cook while stirring for another two minutes.
While combining the eggplant and tomato paste, smash the eggplant a bit with the back of the spoon.
Add the vinegar and stir for 30 seconds
Add the honey and most of the pine nuts (hold back a little for garnish) and stir to combine.
Let cool a little bit and then put in your serving dish.
I like to serve at room temperature with toasted bread.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil and sprinkle with reserved toasted pine nuts right before serving.