An Italian, Middle-Eastern mash-up if you will. In a twist, this version of Sicilian eggplant dish is roasted on a sheet pan in the oven, so you don’t have to bother with any deep- or pan-frying. The tomato paste and cinnamon give it depth, the sherry vinegar lends brightness, and the raisins and brown sugar offer balance.
This variation on Italian caponata becomes a main course atop fluffy couscous and creamy goat cheese. Buy the freshest eggplant you can find, it should feel heavy and have no soft spots, and you won’t need to peel or salt it to pull out any bitterness. Because pine nuts are traditional in caponata, they’re the first choice, but they can be pricey so pepitas or chopped walnuts make fine substitutions. Finally, if you don’t like goat cheese, substitute ricotta or farmer cheese. But the cheese adds a welcome component, so don’t omit it.
Under the couscous, the goat cheese melts into a creamy, salty, tangy puddle.G. Daniela galarza
NOTE: Leftovers may be refrigerated in covered containers for up to 4 days.
Sheet Pan Caponata and Couscous with Goat Cheese
For the Caponata
- 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 lb. Japanese or globe eggplant, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 medium yellow or red onion (8 to 10 oz.), chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium tomato (6 to 8 oz.), chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp. light brown sugar or honey, or to taste
- 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper, or to taste
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/4 cup raisins (any kind)
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, pepitas or chopped walnuts
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup water
- 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, or to taste
For the Couscous
- 1 1/2 cups water or low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
- 1 1/2 cups (about 9 oz.) couscous
- 3 oz. soft goat cheese, or more if desired
- 1/4 cup torn fresh basil, mint or parsley (optional)
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
- Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Add the eggplant, onion, bell pepper, tomato and garlic, and use your hands to toss everything together. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top, followed by the brown sugar or honey, salt, cinnamon and black pepper. Toss again, then spread into an even layer.
- Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, using tongs or a spatula, flip and redistribute vegetables so they cook evenly. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through and browned.
- Transfer the pan to a heatproof surface. Mash the garlic cloves into a paste. Push the vegetables aside to expose a small area of the hot metal and place the tomato paste on it. Using a wooden spoon, stir the tomato paste into the vegetables, followed by the raisins, nuts or seeds, water and vinegar; stir to combine. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with more vinegar, sugar, salt and/or pepper as desired.
- Make the couscous: About 10 minutes before the eggplant is finished roasting, in a medium lidded saucepan over high heat, bring the water or stock, olive oil and salt to a rolling boil. Immediately pour in the couscous, ensuring it’s moistened throughout, then cover, remove from the heat and let it steam for about 5 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.
- To serve, portion about a quarter of the goat cheese into the center of each plate. Top with a pile of couscous and some of the caponata. Garnish with the torn herbs and more goat cheese, if desired.
Recipe by G. Daniela Galarza from the Eat Voraciously newsletter