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By Lilly Allison Steirer

The Sicilian condiment Caponata is a sweet and sour way to use up eggplant and extend it in a dish that can be tossed with pasta, spread on bread or as a delightful topping on grilled vegetables. This riff on the traditional caponata has a bit less vinegar and skips the sugar by using a sweet balsamic. Adjust the vinegar as you desire. Typically, I skip the traditional celery as it is a bit harder to find locally grown in Colorado. Adding chopped pieces of summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms, sweet peppers, or whatever is abundant in your garden or at the market would be welcome, too. 

Eggplant Caponata

3 cups eggplant, in small chunks

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil 

2 cups tomato, diced

1/4 cup capers

1/4 cup green olives, minced 

1/2 cup fresh basil, torn in pieces

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, more or less to taste 

1 pinch red pepper flakes, more 

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander with a generous sprinkle of salt. Allow it to hang out and sweat out its bitter liquid for at least 10 minutes up to an hour. 

Mince up the onion and place in a skillet over medium heat. Add a splash of the olive oil to the onions and saute until cooked through. 

Rinse the eggplant and squeeze dry in your hands. Remove the onions, add a splash more olive oil and spread the eggplant in the pan. Sear on each side for just a couple of minutes until barely crisp and golden. 

Once the eggplants are tender and cooked, return the onions to the pan. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers and any other vegetables you have available. Fold in the basil and finish with the vinegar and a bit of red chili pepper. Taste. Add more salt and red chili pepper flakes if desired. 

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