Caponata one of our favorite vegan eggplant recipes. It's an Italian eggplant salad with a delicious sweet and sour flavor. We make it with oven-baked eggplant (instead of deep-fried) in less than 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 360F (180C). Dice the eggplant. Add it to a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Season with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, a pinch of salt and 3 twists of pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, chop onion and celery and add them to a pan with 2 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry gently for 5 minutes. Add ⅓ cup of water if the pan is too dry.
If you use fresh tomatoes then cut them in small dice. Add tomatoes (fresh or canned) to pan. Add ½ teaspoon of salt, olives, capers, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, till the tomatoes are soft. Note: Add ½ cup water if pan gets too dry. This depends on water content of tomatoes.
Add sugar and vinegar, stir, then taste the sauce and adjust for salt, sugar, or vinegar if necessary.
Add baked eggplants, fresh basil, stir, finish cooking for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat off, let rest for at least 15 minutes. Serve as a starter, side dish, or main dish on pasta. You can top the caponata with toasted pine nuts and more fresh basil.
Caponata can be prepared in advance, stored in the fridge for up to 5 days, and served at room temperature or warm.