SPICY EGGPLANT CAPONATA // BARCELONA WINE BAR & RESTAURANT
There is a show on The Food Network called ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate’; Andrew and I used to watch it when we lived in New York and had no cable, entranced by the satiating dishes Food Network stars recalled, traveling the world with them and living vicariously through their taste buds.
A few weeks ago, Andrew and I had the pleasure of celebrating his 26th birthday at Barcelona Wine Bar & Restaurant in Washington, DC; we rejoiced on their outdoor patio under a brilliantly warm April moon, swayed to a perfect buzz from their boozy red wine sangria, and celebrated life with great food, great company, and this authentically welcoming vibrant atmosphere that was just so alive. We showed up again at Barcelona two days later, desperate to relive the experience, pleading for a seat at their Saturday brunch. Andrew and I have eaten ‘around the block’ once or twice. We sometimes take vacations for the sole purpose of eating our way through a culture.. but after a few bites of Barcelona’s Spicy Eggplant Caponata with sweet basil and parsley (which mind you is located less than a 10 minute walk from our apartment), HOLY COW, we were hooked.
Barcelona’s Spicy Eggplant Caponata is one of the best things I ever ate. The depth of flavor, from the charred eggplant to the reduced balsamic and crushed tomatoes, paired with fresh herbs and rich olive oil, creates this soft, savory, yet fresh bowl of perfection I honestly can’t get enough of. After speaking with Barcelona’s head chef Steven Brand, I was invited to modify their recipe for the at-home kitchen and the at-home cook’s skill level. This Caponata recipe makes A LOT (but I promise, not a drop will go to waste). I suggest preparing your Caponata over the weekend and getting creative over the course of the week, enjoying it as a tapas with crusty, crusty bread, pairing it with your favorite greens and seasonal vegetables on a salad, using it as a sauce for your favorite pasta, or on a collard green wrap with hummus, avocado, and cucumber. The possibilities are truly endless, this Caponata can do no wrong.
Spicy Eggplant Caponata [Makes 16 servings]
2 LARGE EGGPLANTS, DICED SMALL
½ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
2 MEDIUM RED PEPPERS, DICED SMALL
1 MEDIUM RED ONION, DICED SMALL
4 LARGE CLOVES GARLIC, THINLY SLICED
1 CUP CRUSHED TOMATOES, FROM CAN
½ CUP BALSAMIC VINEGAR
½ CUP RED WINE VINEGAR
6.5 TABLESPOONS HONEY
½ CUP FRESH BASIL, ROUGHLY CHOPPED
½ CUP FRESH PARSLEY, ROUGHLY CHOPPED
In a sauté pan, sear the eggplant until almost burnt over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Use olive oil, but very little of it- pan should be almost dry. Work in batches, transferring the seared eggplant to big bowl.
When all the eggplant is seared and removed from the pan, add the olive oil, peppers, onions and garlic and reduce the heat to medium-low. Sweat the peppers and onions until soft (8-10 minutes).
While onions, pepper, and garlic are cooking, combine the tomatoes, vinegars, honey and chili flakes in a pot. Reduce by half.
Add the seared eggplant back into the sauté pan with the peppers and onions. Cook gently until the eggplant is cooked through, then add the reduced liquid. Cook approximately 5 more minutes until the liquid is thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Remove pan from the heat and transfer caponata to a large serving bowl. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fold in the basil and parsley leaves, then enjoy!.
Nutritional Information [per serving= ½ cup]
120 Calories, 14g Carbohydrates, 7g Fat, 1g Protein, 2.5g Fiber, 10.5g Sugar