The word “caponata” in Italian can describe any number of dishes, but their common theme is that most contain eggplant, capers, and tomatoes. This simple take on what is sometimes cooked as a sauce or stew incorporates penne into the mix for an all-in-one main dish.
The ingredients for this tasty recipe are simple. Eggplant and onions are spiced with garlic and the whole thing is cooked down until a sauce forms. Traditionally this type of sauce can also have a sour component to offset the little bit of honey in the sauce. I didn’t add it here, but you could add a splash of lemon juice or vinegar if you wanted something a bit more tangy. As it is the capers and olives add just a hint of briny brightness to the recipe.
The pickled items go in at the last minute along with the penne. Then some freshly chopped parsley is the final addition to complete this a colorful and delicious main dish. While it’s definitely an eggplant dish, what I like about it is that none of the flavors overpowers the others. They all play together nicely.
Some fresh parmesan cheese is the icing on the cake as it were for this vegetarian dish. In some areas of Italy sausage or other meats are cooked into the caponata. Italian or Polish sausage, ground beef, or chicken would all be ideal to add to this recipe.
When you want a fresh take on eggplant this simple-to-make caponata penne hits the spot. Plus it feeds a crowd with ease!
Eggplant Caponata Penne
15m prep time
30m cook time
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large eggplant, cut into 1” cubes
- 2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 (3.8 oz) can sliced black olives
- 1/4 cup capers (drained)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 (1 lb) box penne
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Boil pasta to package directions. Drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking heat up oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to the oil and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Switch heat to high and add in eggplant. Cook until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add in tomatoes, honey, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes or until sauce begins to come together and larger pieces break down.
- Remove from heat and add olives, capers, and parsley. Add pasta to sauce and toss to combine. Serve with grated parmesan sprinkled over the top.
Recipe adapted from Taste.