Top Chef’s Antonia Lofaso
CHEF ANTONIA’S GUEST WORTHY RECIPE:
Eggplant Caponata served at The Longines Masters of New York
Eggplant Caponata is the perfect dish for the summer/fall because it provides a flavorful, vibrant dish to enjoy at the dinner table or al fresco. The texture of the eggplant is paired with chopped toasted almonds, giving a nice crunch to each bite. Prepare ahead of time, as the caponata tastes best when given 24 hours to allow the flavors to develop as it sits overnight. Garnish with picked yellow celery leaves to finish, and serve.
8 Japanese eggplant (approx. 4 qts), sliced before frying
1/4 c cooking oil
2 c yellow onions, small dice
2 c celery, medium dice
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 c plus 1 Tbsp capers
1/3 c sherry vinegar
3 c marinara
1/3 c chopped parsley
Peel strips along the eggplant so that it looks like it has half-inch stripes.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, and then into one-inch-long wedges. Season with 1 Tbsp of kosher salt and let sit for 20 minutes, so that water drains out of the eggplant.
Fry eggplant in fryer at 325 until golden in color. Let cool on a sheet tray at room temp.
In a large pot, warm the cooking oil. Add onions and celery, and cook on medium-low heat. Leave to sweat until soft, but not brown.
Add garlic and capers. Stir and cook for one minute, then add sherry vinegar.
Add marinara and bring to a simmer.
Fold in fried eggplant, let simmer for a minute or two, and turn off heat. Taste and add salt only if needed.
Be careful to not stew eggplant too long as it will break down.
Put caponata in a bowl and allow to cool.
Once cooled, mix in the chopped parsley. Store in refrigerator for up to three days.
Serve at room temperature. Depending on your environment, it should be pulled about one hour before serving. Garnish with coarsely chopped toasted almonds with the skin on and some small yellow celery leaves.