Saturday, August 8, 2009

Eggplant caponata... sort of

This week at the Crystal City farmers market, I could not resist picking up a few small light purple globe eggplants. Last summer one of my favorite meals was grilled eggplant with caponata salsa, a la smitten kitchen. So I decided to put my adorable eggplants to use in a modified version of that recipe that does not include so many non-local items (olives, capers, etc).

Plus, I wanted to add cheese. I found this recipe for grilled eggplant with tomato goat cheese relish that got me closer to what I was envisioning. In the end, I just improvised.

I've never actually tried to write out a recipe, but here is basically what I did, with guesses at the measurements. This is enough for about three people, assuming you are serving other dishes as well.


3 small globe eggplants (or you could use the long slim Japanese eggplants, which is what I usually do because I find them less bitter)
Olive oil (to brush on the eggplant)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 pint of cherry tomatoes (preferably a mix of colors—I used red and yellow), halved lengthwise (I cut some of the larger tomatoes in quarters)
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped fairly finely
Olive oil
Vinegar (I used the ramp vinegar I am so excited by, but I think red wine or balsamic would also work. Or even just lemon juice.)
Basil (I used a little bit of dried but fresh would be better)
Salt and pepper to taste
Goat cheese or another soft-ish cheese (maybe two ounces)

I would make the salsa first to allow for some flavor-mingling time. Combine all of the vegetables and mix well. If the proportions don't look quite right, feel free to add more tomatoes, more onion, etc. Add two parts olive oil to one part vinegar. I just guessed at this and ended up adding too much. Don't forget, like I did, that the tomatoes will give off a lot of juice. Start small—you can always add more if you need it.

Then add the basil (or other herbs—smitten kitchen uses fresh oregano but I am not a big fan) and the salt and pepper to taste. I'm sure there are many other things you could add to this salsa—some chopped bell pepper, maybe? Or you could go in a fruity direction and add peaches, which go well with tomatoes.

Set that aside and slice the eggplant evenly into half-inch slices. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill the eggplant on a grill pan (or, I suppose, an actual grill), or just pan fry if you don't have a grill pan, as I do not right now.

Divide the slices evenly among the number of people you are serving (in my case, it was three people, three slices of eggplant each) and top with salsa and some crumbled goat cheese (or chopped cheese if you couldn't find goat cheese, as was the case for me. I used a really delicious cave-aged cheese called Chappelle from Chapel's Country Creamery in Maryland.

To round out the meal, I served focaccia from Quail Creek Farm with butter from Blue Ridge Dairy, and some totally non-local whole-wheat spaghetti with a light tomato sauce. I did make the sauce myself but the only local ingredient in it was the garlic. So we'll pretend that wasn't part of the meal for the purposes of this challenge. :)


  1. Erin, this sounds so delicious! We should cook together sometime. :-) I'd love to hear more about all the local ingredients you are discovering. (Like cave-aged cheese from a Maryland creamery!? Wow.)


  2. Brianne, I would love to cook with you! Let me know next time you are up here!

  3. looks like an Eggplant tartan!!

  4. Looks and sounds delicious! Glad you got time this weekend to hit the markets.

  5. As one of this dinner's lucky recipients, I can attest to the fact that it was delicious!