I always fail at roasting/toasting eggplants, which makes me sad as I have quite a few recipes that tout the unique smoky taste that can only be achieved by charring an eggplant on a flame. However much I try, I always end up with burnt on the outside, raw on the inside, and eggplant juice all over my stove. Or, I mash only the outer 2 inches of eggplant and inevitably try to “rescue” the raw bits in the oven but it’s not quite the same. But, one thing I can make, and quite enjoy, is caponata, a Sicilian eggplant antipasto type dish. It’s delicious served room temperature on crackers, toast, tortilla chips, basically, the crunchy salty and starchy.
Here I have decided to include “in process” photos. Eggplant, after all, is such a lustrous, beautiful purple plant that I still haven’t quite figured out how to cook. I didn’t like it at all until I became a grownup, and I have an amazing curry recipe that, sadly, involves toasting/roasting the damned thing. So if anyone has tips on what I’m doing wrong, it would be greatly appreciated. Basically, I just hold an eggplant over my gas flame with tongs or on a rack until it is charred all over. Am I using eggplants that are too large? Inevitably, only the outer 2 inches are cooked and the inside is still raw. It’s the same way I roast peppers, but those work fine, as they are hollow inside.
On to caponata. Here are the caponata onions and celery, cooking away on my stove. By the way, there are more tart red onions being cooked for the week in the background. That dish is kind of becoming a staple in this household for better or for worse. This week, they are being made for more turkey sandwiches (lunches!) and for chorizo quesadillas (football!). Incidentally, there was a better picture I badly wanted to use which Blogger refused to put horizontally and insisted was a vertical photo despite repeated uploading. It was definitively not a vertical photo, and so I could not use it. Very frustrating. How do you, fellow bloggers, fix this problem?

caponata (pictured here with HATCH CHILE tortilla chips, oh yums!)

Saute an onion and a rib of celery in a tablespoon of olive oil. Add a medium eggplant, sliced, 1/3 cup of white wine and simmer a few minutes. Add lots of garlic (I added about 7 cloves), 3 chopped plum tomatoes, 1 6 oz can tomato paste, a dash of balsamic vinegar, thyme, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer the whole mess until the eggplant is nice and soft. Take off heat and stir in 1/4 c kalamata olives, chopped. Serve at room temperature.