I promise I mean no disrespect.
But this is not your grandmother’s caponata.
We have the traditional tomatoes, eggplant, capers, and olives. But, just for the season, we’re also adding autumn squash, fennel, fresh thyme, and… Do I detect a hint of cinnamon??
We’re having all of the fun with this cozy stew, because fall is in session and comfort food is in high demand. (I know I’m not the only one with such feelings.)
This is the kind of comfort food you make in layers, allowing each flavor to develop. It’s not difficult, but it takes a bit of time, and you can bet your sweet sweater it tastes even better the next day.
This is the perfect meal to make on a weekend or for a leisurely, special weeknight dinner.
Can you believe that once upon a time I thought I didn’t like eggplant?
My ‘dislike’ wasn’t even based on anything, I was just trying to put something on the list of food that I didn’t like and poor eggplant became my victim. I had never even tried it, I just assumed it wasn’t for me and never opened up to it.
Fast forward to last year when I decided to try a meal kit service that was having a special. When I got my box, one of the meals in the kit was caponata, a completely new dish for me. With my fake vendetta against eggplant I was nervous to try it, so imagine my surprise when I fell in love with the dish and the versatile vegetable! I ended up cancelling my subscription after just a few boxes, but I consider the experiment 100% worth it because of my long overdue introduction to eggplant and to caponata.
Since then it has become one of my favorite dishes to make, and this rebellious remix of caponata with autumn veggies, warm spices, and a splash of wine is, without a doubt, my new favorite version.
If you’re not familiar with caponata, it’s a super tasty, cozy eggplant and tomato stew. There are various ways to make it, with many ‘authentic’ recipes involving a tedious process of salting and pressing the eggplant between two weights to squeeze out all of the excess water. But you know how we do things here; we’re going with the lazy method and simply roasting our squash. SO GOOD.
This vegan stew is incredibly hearty and satisfying, and goes very well with a salad or toasted bread. And if you’re a die-hard carnivore like me, serve it alongside your favorite grilled or roasted meat!
So get out your cutting board, your Dutch oven, and a glass of red wine. Tonight we’re making an irreverent, autumn-inspired caponata.
- 1 eggplant
- 1 delicata squash (can also use acorn squash)
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, ghee, or coconut oil, divided use
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bulb fennel, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- a glug (about 1/8 cup) of dry wine, optional (red or white)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup olives, halved
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- the tiniest pinch of cloves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Mostly peel the eggplant. You don't need to get all of the peel off, but try to get off at least half of the skin. Cut off the top and bottom of the eggplant and discard. Cut the eggplant into rounds and the rounds into cubes. Toss the cubes with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Cut off the top and bottom of the delicata squash and discard. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the insides with a metal spoon. Discard. Then cut the squash into cubes. Toss the cubes with 1 tablespoon of oil and spread in an even layer on a baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheets with the eggplant and the squash into the preheated oven. Roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing once, or until browned and tender. Remove from the oven.
- In a Dutch oven, heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the onion begins to brown and soften. Add the chopped fennel and cook for about 3 more minutes or until the onions are translucent and the fennel is beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring often.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and stir gently. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the roasted eggplant and squash. Toss gently again to combine. Simmer the caponata for 8-10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has cooked off.
- Remove from heat. Serve with chicken, fish, and/or toasted, buttered (or olive oil-ed) bread. Enjoy! (*Insider Tip:* This is even better the next day.)