Pasta Caponata


PREP TIME | 10 MINS plus wait time 30 MINS


Recipe Image

I love the flexibility of this dish. It can be used as an appetizer-spread over crusty bread, as a dip for crackers and crudités. To make a quick dinner, simply mix with your favorite pasta and a few dollops of burrata. It’s warm, earthy, tangy and satisfying.


* 5 tablespoons olive oil (about 1/3 cup)
* 1 medium eggplant, 1-11/2 pound eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 4 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced
* 1-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
* 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons capers, drained and coarsely chopped
* 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and more for garnish
* 1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts, optional
* 1 lb Cavatappi or thick spaghetti
* 8 oz Burrata cheese, 1 large ball ripped into 4 pieces or 4-6 smaller balls.
* Kosher salt for leaching moisture from the eggplant and to salt the pasta water
* Freshly ground pepper


1. Heat a large, heavy pot over medium heat. If roasting nuts, add them to the hot pan now. Swirl and stir for 2-4 minutes or until the nuts are golden and toasted. This step can be done in advance and the nuts stored in a container in the refrigerator.
2. Add the oil to the hot pan and heat for a few seconds, add the eggplant, onion, and garlic cloves. sauté until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
3. While the eggplant mixture cooks, fill a large pot with water and 2-3 tablespoons of salt and bring to a boil, cook pasta according to the package directions, save 1 cup pasta water, drain and rinse the pasta and then put it back into the pot and cover to stay warm.
4. Add diced tomatoes and juice, red wine vinegar and drained capers to the pot with the eggplant mixture, stir well and cover. Simmer until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 12-15 minutes.
5. Add the Caponata and ½ cup of the pasta water to the pot with the pasta and toss, adding more pasta water as necessary to reach a silky consistency.
6. Transfer caponata and pasta to a serving bowl and mix in the chopped basil, saving some for garnish.
7. Season with fresh pepper. Additional salt is not usually necessary as there should be enough salt in the dish from the tomatoes and rinsed eggplant.
8. Sprinkle with toasted pine or walnuts, if using, and nestle in the Burrata cheese.
9. Drizzle with olive oil, additional fresh basil, and a few good cranks of black pepper and serve


Double Dusty Recipe: Double the recipe and serve it as an appetizer with drinks on a Friday or Saturday night and then over pasta with a crisp green salad for a weeknight meal.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. It tastes wonderful dolloped over fish and chicken too. Caponata can be made a few days ahead, cover and chill.

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