Purple Pros

Turn seasonal eggplants into a spread (or stuffing or sandwich ... )

Call it the recession's silver lining: Countless fine-dining venues have spun off sister restaurants at lower price points. Philadelphia diners were elated when Marc Vetri–whose namesake restaurant is as well known for steep checks as its delicate handmade pastas–opened the more casual, Rome-inspired Amis. There, Vetri's food is unfussy yet gratifying: This versatile eggplant caponata–Italy's version of ratatouille–boasts a richness that belies its humble ingredients. Leftovers make for an easy sandwich or filling for hearty stuffed peppers.

Recipe adapted from Marc Vetri, Amis, Philadelphia

Eggplant Caponata
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Marc Verti's recipe for eggplant caponata from Amis restaurant in Philadelphia
Servings
5
cups (about 8 servings)
Ingredients
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 medium eggplants, cut into ½-inch cubes (about 10 cups)
  • ½ medium fennel bulb, diced
  • ¼ medium red onion, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ cup diced canned tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup golden raisins
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
Directions
  1. In a large, heavy skillet heat ¼ cup of the canola oil over medium-high heat until shimmering (but not smoking). Add half the eggplant in a single layer and cook, turning every few minutes, until deep golden brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Add another ¼ cup of oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining eggplant.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil along with the fennel, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables become very soft but have not colored, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine, crushing them as you go. Gently fold in the eggplant, pine nuts and raisins, being careful not to break up the eggplant.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper and vinegar. Serve warm or at room temperature or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
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