Caponata, the popular Sicilian appetizer, is often served at room temperature on toasted croutons. Traditionally it includes tomatoes, eggplant, onions, and capers to produce a pronounced sweet-and-sour taste. In this California version there's no tomato; roasted eggplant is paired with sweet onion and California blue cheese or pungent Italian Gorgonzola to become a fragrant, warm spread for crisp toasts or warm French bread.
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large red onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 pound Point Reyes Original Blue, Gorgonzola dolcelatte, or other creamy blue cheese, cut into small pieces
- Thinly sliced French or sourdough bread warmed or toasted for serving
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and prick in several spots. Bake for 50 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from the oven. Let cool, then peel and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. While the eggplant is baking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until nicely browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinegar and continue cooking until the onions are nicely glazed, about 5 minutes longer. Continue cooking the onions, adding the water a tablespoonful at a time as the liquid evaporates to keep them moist and prevent burning, until very soft, about 30 minutes longer.
3. Add the eggplant and the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar to the onions. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Gently cook over medium heat until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cheese to the eggplant mixture and cook briefly, just until the cheese is melted and distributed. Spoon the mixture into a 2-cup crock and serve immediately, with the bread.
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