Tastes of Summer (2003)

See Also
  Eggplant Caponata

The Chef
Mario Batali of Otto

Serves 8

1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons dried currants
1⁄2–1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, to taste 2 medium eggplants, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 11⁄4 pounds each)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
3⁄4 cup basic tomato sauce
1⁄4 cup orange juice
Zest of 3 oranges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions
Heat the oil in a 12-to-14-inch sauté pan. Add the onion, garlic, pine nuts, currants, and red-pepper flakes, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder, and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring often. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, orange juice, and orange zest, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let cool and serve at room temperature. Best made one day ahead, to let the flavors develop. Will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator.