I didn’t have very high hopes for this dish – I only made it because I had half an aubergine to use up, and I had some other relevant ingredients. What could be so special about this? It’s just tomato sauce with a few lumps of aubergine in, right?
Wrong! This was so good! It’s thick and sticky, almost like some sort of jam or chutney, and the flavours make the tomato and aubergine taste really interesting – sweetness, spiciness, and a little acidity from the balsamic vinegar.
I probably shouldn’t tell you this, since it’s very untraditional and very unItalian, but I ate this with a thin sliver of Brie on top – even better! Served on some warm toasted bread, this made a great lunch, or you could serve it as a chutney or party dip with some crackers. It’d even be good stirred through pasta, though you might have to make it a little thinner and less sticky.
I always try to make my recipes one-pot wonders, and this is another – so not much washing up, which is always a selling point in my house!

Sweet and spicy aubergine caponata

Serves 2 as a light lunch, or many more as a party dip

1/2 a medium aubergine, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1tsp dried thyme
1tsp mild chilli powder
1/2tsp cayenne chilli pepper
2tbsp sugar
250g tinned tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Black pepper
Toasted bread to serve

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the aubergine, onion and garlic. After a minute or two, turn the heat down to low, and leave to cook gently, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, add the thyme, spices and sugar, and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, and turn the heat up to medium. Season to taste. Stirring occasionally, leave to simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft and the mixture is thick and sticky.
Serve warm on toasted bread.