Eggplant, like its fellow nightshades tomatoes and peppers, comes in a psychedelic array of shapes and colors, all in late-summer profusion now at the Greenmarket. Sette Enoteca e Cucina chef Amanda Freitag favors an Italian heirloom variety, the round, creamy-textured rosa bianco, for her tangy caponata. Look for them at Yuno’s stand Mondays and Fridays at Union Square.
Amanda Freitag’s “Rosa Bianco” Eggplant Caponata
6 rosa bianco eggplants, peeled and cut in medium dice
2 tablespoons salt
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 celery stalks, cut thinly on the bias
2 anchovies in oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
11/2 cups red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup capers in brine
1) Toss eggplant with salt in bowl. Drain in colander beneath a heavy weight, like a can or a bottle placed inside another bowl, for two hours. Rinse off excess salt. Squeeze and pat dry with paper towels. Heat three tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in large sauté pan. Cook onions until translucent, about one minute.
2) Add garlic and celery and cook for about five minutes, until garlic softens and celery turns deeper green. Add anchovies and cook for another minute. Add tomato paste and stir into vegetable mixture. Cook for two minutes until paste turns brownish-red and starts to stick to pan. Add vinegar and sugar and stir until mixture thickens. Turn off heat. In another large sauté pan, heat two tablespoons olive oil over high heat until smoking. Gently toss in eggplant and let it sear while stirring and shaking pan. Lower heat to medium and cook until translucent and soft (about 8–10 minutes).
3) Add eggplant to vegetable mixture and cook over low heat for three minutes, until flavors mesh. Finish with capers. Serve warm or at room temperature.