In this eggplant caponata recipe, the traditional eggplant and tomato combination is spiked with olives, capers and chile peppers. Serve with crostini as an appetizer or as a topping for chicken or fish.
Combine eggplant and salt in a large bowl. Transfer to a colander, place a plate on the eggplant and weight down the plate with cans. Set the colander in the sink to drain for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bay leaves and let sizzle for about 1 minute to flavor the oil. Stir in onions and celery. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 30 minutes; do not let them brown. Add tomatoes and capers, increase heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, just until the tomatoes start to break down, about 5 minutes. Stir in olives; transfer everything to a large bowl.
When the eggplant is ready, rinse under running water to get rid of as much salt as possible. Dry thoroughly on paper towels.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup oil in the same skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add the eggplant and cook, tossing and stirring, until brown on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes. Add chiles and cook, stirring, until they are softened, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant and peppers to the bowl with the tomato mixture and gently stir to combine.
Whisk vinegar and honey in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer until thickened and reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Stir into the vegetables along with parsley and basil. Serve at room temperature.
Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Bring to room temperature before serving.
2 1/2 vegetable, 2 1/2 fat