I’m not a vegetarian, but I find myself making lots of veg-based dishes year round – especially when the temperature drops. Nothing says autumn to me like this savory and colorful dish that is great on its own, over couscous, tossed with pasta or served alongside grilled chicken. This is an incredibly easy and crazy flavorful caponata that, paired with a nice bottle of red, will be sure to keep you warm on these chilly BA nights.
1 medium eggplant – cut into cubes (salt and drain it if you have time to release the water)
1 medium red pepper – cut into cubes
1 medium fennel bulb – sliced thin or cut into cubes
Mushrooms (Portobello are nice here) – cut in half
Plenty of Olive Oil
Italian seasonings – oregano, crushed red pepper, etc
Salt & fresh black pepper
Heat up a generous amount of olive oil (1/2 cup let’s say) in a wide saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s all nice and warm, add the fennel and sauteé until it starts to get fragrant and soften up a bit (let’s say 4-5 minutes or so). Add the red pepper and let them mingle and get to know each other, a few minutes longer. Toss the eggplant in, mix to coat, and add some more olive oil if necessary. This is when I like to add my Italian seasonings too. Once the eggplant starts to cook and everything is getting nice and soft, toss those mushrooms in and mix thoroughly. Depending on how many vegetables you’ve got going there and how big your pan is, cooking time will vary, but don’t be eager to get them off the stove – cook until it reduces nicely and the vegetables really start to look lovely/soft/drunk on olive oil. You don’t want the mix to be too oily, but you don’t want it to be too dry either, so don’t be shy if it needs another glug or two. Check and season to taste and let cool a bit before serving. (It’s even better the next day)
You can mix this up and add in some capers, good olives, onion … Whatever you have on hand. I love eating it as leftovers with some fresh pasta or piled on top of chicken, always with tons of crushed red pepper. It’s a breeze to make in large batches and eat throughout the week (usually what I do because I’m both lazy and a creature of habit). Enjoy!