Caponata Vegetarian Dinner
Eggplant gets such a bad rap - mushy, unflavorful, and difficult to cook are often the complaints I here about this vegetable. However, this pasta caponata will help those eggplant doubters see why and how eggplant can and should be incorporated more into their meals.
The two key elements to this dish:
- Make sure the pan is set to high/medium heat so the eggplant can get a nice sear. Don't be tempted to overmix the eggplant when you first start cooking it. That will prevent any browning!
- High quality olive oil for a final drizzle. I suggest spending the money on an olive oil that's a bit fancier and tastier than your average, low priced oil. Topping this pasta with a drizzle of full bodied olive oil truly makes the difference.
I also suggest prepping all of the ingredients before starting to cook the caponata. Have the eggplant diced, cherry tomatoes halved, roasted red bell peppers chopped, garlic minced, herbs chopped, and the other ingredients ready to be used will make cooking and final assembly go much smoother.
A vegetarian dish that even meat lovers will enjoy. Topped with a drizzle of good olive oil and parmesan makes this pasta dish even tastier!
- ¾ of a 1 pound box of noodles cavatappi, penne, rigatoni or farfalle are what I prefer
- 2 tbsp oil plus extra for drizzling
- 1 eggplant cut into ¼ inch cubes
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/3 cup roasted red peppers chopped - I buy the DeLallo brand
- ½ tsp salt + ¼ tsp salt separated
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- sugar pinch
- 2 tbsp parsley chopped
- 2 tbsp basil chopped
- ¼ cup pasta water
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese plus extra for topping
- You will be cooking ¾ of the box. If you want more noodles, cook more noodles. You will just have a smaller noodle to sauce ratio. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box. Make sure to reserve ¼ cup pasta water.
- In a large sauté pan add oil. Heat pan to medium high heat. Let oil get hot enough for the eggplant to sizzle when you put it into the pan. This takes about a minute. To check if the oil is hot enough, add 1 piece of eggplant to the pan. If the oil sizzles, it’s ready for the rest of the eggplant. If not, wait another 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Place eggplant in pan in a single layer. Try and let the eggplant cook without touching it for the first few minutes. You want the eggplant to get a nice sear. If you mix too often, it won’t brown. After 3 or 4 minutes, mix the eggplant. You don’t have to brown on all sides, just do the best you can. Continue cooking for another 2 minutes so the eggplant starts to cook and soften.
- Next, add cherry tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, ½ tsp salt and pepper. Cook for about 2-3 minutes or until tomatoes start to breakdown. Add chopped garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Add red wine vinegar, pinch of sugar, basil and parsley. Turn heat to low until pasta is done cooking.
- Once pasta is done cooking, add pasta, pasta water, ¼ tsp salt, and parmesan cheese.
- I suggest topping each serving with a drizzle of high quality of oil and an extra sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
I would buy the roasted red pepper. You can roast your own, but it's much easier to buy them already roasted. I buy the DeLallo brand.
If you want to serve 4 people, cook the entire 1 pound box of pasta. You can also use a larger eggplant and add more tomatoes.
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hi, I'm leslie
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