Traditional Eggplant Caponata, this is not. I am calling this recipe "Eggplant Agrodolce." My recipe is essentially modeled after traditional Eggplant Caponatas, but takes more inspiration from the one served at at Barcelona Wine Bar, BWB.
When my sister and I lived in Boston, BWB was our go-to for happy hours and brunches. We ordered the eggplant caponata probably every single time we went. Theirs is a fabulous combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and even a little spicy flavors, serves with deliciously warm, crispy bread. Traditional versions of Caponata usually contain some combination of eggplant, tomatoes, olives, raisins, capers, and nuts, but I stick to just a few simple ingredients with punchy flavors.
What is Eggplant Agrodolce?
This term is pretty generic. Agrodolce means "sour and sweet" in Italian. It's a common flavor profile, so it has its own name. The sour and sweet flavors can vary though. This recipe calls for sour flavors of red vinegar and Granny Smith apples, and sweet flavors of honey and... well, Granny Smith apples.
Another well known agrodolce is Chicken Marbella, which combines the tartness of balsamic vinegar, red onions, and red wine with the sweetness of raisins.
If you don't have all the ingredients listed in this recipe, you can substitute for other ingredients with similar flavors. For example, if you're low on capers, try dicing up some green olives for the same briny, sour flavor. Use a different type of apple or vinegar. Or even use maple syrup instead of honey. It's interesting to change the taste of a recipe while somehow also staying true to it.
How to Serve It
There are many ways one might serve Eggplant Agrodolce or eggplant caponata, but my favorite ways are as an appetizer alongside crusty toasted bread or as a topping to elevate simple grilled chicken.
Watch my quick TikTok Video on how to make it.
Whatever you do, do NOT use a nonstick pan to make this Eggplant Caponata Recipe. Nonstick pans don't allow you to develop any fond, or flavor, on the bottom of the pan. You want the eggplant and other vegetables to stick a little. The cooking liquid will then deglaze all this flavor.
My suggestion is to use either a cast iron skillet or sauté pan. The two options below are my favorite and the ones I use in my kitchen.Print
Eggplant Agrodolce is a sweet and sour version of eggplant caponata that's incredibly quick and easy to make, and oh so delicious.
- One medium eggplant, peeled and diced
- One bell pepper, diced (I'm partial to orange bell peppers)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ of a granny smith apple, peeled and diced
- ¼c red vinegar
- ¼c water
- 2 TB honey
- 1.5 TB olive oil (for sautéing)
- 1 TB tomato paste
- 1 TB capers for an extra briny flavor
- Handfuls of parsley and/or basil, chopped
- 4 slices of sourdough bread
- Mise en place- Dice all vegetables and place them in a large bowl. Toast a few slices of sourdough bread. Measure out the liquid ingredients. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over a medium high flame, heat 1.5 TB olive oil and sauté the eggplant, bell pepper, apple, and garlic mixture. Only stir occasionally. You want the veggies on the bottom of the pan to brown a little. Season generously with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for about 9 minutes, until veggies are soft and becoming more golden in color. Taste along the way! Is it bland? Add more salt. Like things a little spicier? Add more pepper flakes.
- Add tomato paste, stir, and cook for 1 minute, as tomato paste coats the vegetable mixture and becomes a darker shade of red.
- Add red vinegar, honey, and water. Cook for at least another minute. If you still see liquid, keep cooking until liquid has completely reduced.
- Once liquid has reduced, stir in the capers, allow them 30 seconds to heat through, then stir in your fresh herbs, and remove from heat.