Friday, July 19, 2013

At Home: Sugo Eggplant Caponata

Next on Restaurant Recreations...At Home, I tackle one of Cava’s most popular Mediterranean small plates called eggplant caponata. Punched up with chopped olives, capers, and a scattering of mint it was a huge hit at the restaurant.  No longer available on Cava's menu, Chef Dimitri Moshovitis now features it in his newest restaurant, Sugo Cicchetti in Potomac, MD. As with many Italian preparations, prime produce and good olive oil are the keys to the dish. Eggplant and mint are more abundant at farmers markets as the weather warms, and the rest of the ingredients can be found in grocery stores.

Left: The original dish at Cava now available at Sugo; Right: Chef Moshovitis
 Sugo Eggplant Caponata (Serves 4)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded, cored, and diced
  • 1 Tbsp chopped Greek kalamata olives
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ½ teasp fine-chopped capers
  • ½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

- Pour half the oil in a medium pan set over medium-high heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients, except the mint, and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Set the mixture aside and allow to cool, about 30 minutes.
- Add the mint and the rest of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- The caponata keeps in the fridge up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature.

Keith was in the mood for Greek gyros and I thought this eggplant caponata would make a nice accompaniment.  We didn't have any red onion on hand, only white.  I used a bit less of the white onion than the original recipe calls for so as not to overpower the eggplant.  Also, instead of capers I used large green Greek olives to add that same punch of briny flavor.  This caponata would be great over a nice piece of grilled Mediterranean bass or simply as an appetizer with pita chips or warm bread.  The mint adds that extra oomph of brightness to freshen up this vegetarian-friendly dish.  In place of chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, we slathered the eggplant caponata on our chicken gyros and it was delicious!  I love fusing cuisines and this Mediterranean marriage of Italian and Greek flavors worked well.

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