Recipe Sleuth: Cava’s Eggplant Caponata

This might be the easiest appetizer you'll ever make. And the produce for it is just now starting to show up at farmers markets.

Cava’s eggplant caponata is incredibly easy to make. Photograph by Erik Uecke

Until recently, eggplant caponata was one of Cava’s most popular Mediterranean small plates. Fans of the dish—punched up with chopped olives, capers, and a scattering of mint—may be dismayed to see it gone from the list of vegetable mezze. But chef Dimitri Moshovitis isn’t removing it from the company's repertoire completely: The Sicilian flavors fit perfectly for the lineup of Italian dishes that the Cava owners will debut with their new restaurant, Sugo Macaroni and Pizza Bar in Rockville, scheduled to open in late summer (read more about it here). In the meantime, we secured the recipe so you can make it all summer long.

As with many Italian preparations, prime produce and good olive oil are the keys to the dish. Eggplant and mint are more abundant at farmers markets as the weather warms, and the rest of the ingredients can be found in grocery stores. The dish can be served as is or with pita for dipping.

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Cava’s Eggplant Caponata
Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium eggplant, diced into small cubes
1 plum tomato, seeded, cored, and diced
1 tablespoon chopped Greek kalamata olives
1 small red onion, diced
½ teaspoon fine-chopped capers
½ bunch of mint, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour half the oil in a medium pan set over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the mint, and sauté for 3 minutes.

Set the mixture aside and allow to cool, about 30 minutes. Add the mint and the rest of the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

The caponata keeps in the fridge up to 5 days. Serve at room temperature.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.