During the summer months, we’re rich with an abundance of fresh produce and often find ourselves looking for new ways to enjoy them. I generally enjoy roasting fresh vegetables because of the deeper flavor dimensions roasting imparts. I’ve even reinterpreted many of my family’s tried and true vegetable recipes that originally called for long stovetop cooking. Those magic minutes spent roasting in the oven brightened both the flavor and appearance of the vegetables. This recipe for caponata is one such transformation. Typically, caponata is made by simmering eggplant with onion, celery, tomatoes, and other ingredients. It gets its signature sweet-and-sour flavor from the inclusion of raisins and sugar combined with green olives, capers, and vinegar. My version strays from the original, not just in cooking method, but also in my choice of ingredients. To create some vibrant color contrast, I add diced zucchini and orange or yellow bell pepper. I also employ the more colorful red onion, purple eggplant, and golden raisins for a “rainbow” of flavors, textures, and color. Caponata is a sweet-and-sour eggplant mélange that originated in Sicily. For a more traditional version, omit the zucchini and bell pepper. Spooned onto toasted bread, it makes a delicious appetizer on a warm summer evening.
Roasted Rainbow Caponata Crostini [Vegan]
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 purple eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 2 celery rib, chopped
- 1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoon capers, drained
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or basil
- 1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the onion, eggplants, celery, zucchini, bell pepper, and garlic. Drizzle on the oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine, then spread the mixture into a lightly oiled baking dish and roast until the vegetables are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes total. About halfway through the roasting time, turn the vegetables and add the tomatoes, then continue roasting until tender. Remove from the oven and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with the dried basil, oregano, and sugar, then add the olives, capers, raisins, and parsley, stirring gently to mix. Taste to adjust the seasonings, if needed. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
- Preheat the broiler. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil until just toasted, watching carefully so the bread doesn’t burn. Remove from the oven and turn the bread slices over, then return to the oven to lightly toast the other side. Alternatively, you can toast the bread in a hot oven or on the grill Serve the toasted bread immediately with the caponata.