I made this for a party I catered back in January. While I don't typically love eggplant, I love caponata. Especially on toasted crostini, but I already had two appetizers served on crostini. I decided to put this deliciousness over some warm spiral pasta, and viola, pasta salad. It was a hit.
Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat, until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves
Basic Tomato Sauce
In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil or stock over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.
Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often.
Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.