These crostini are basically my take on eggplant caponata, a great Italian dish that happens to be vegan. I like a traditional caponata, but I really, really like this version. The main difference is that I’ve traded the sweet for the heat. Most recipes include raisins as well as sugar to play the sweet notes off of the sour vinegar. My recipe removes the sweet all together, tones down the sour vinegar element and adds a fair amount of spiciness from Calabrian chilies. What can I say? It’s a refection of my preferences. I love savory, spicy, salty dishes, and this one checks all those boxes. The rich, fattiness of the fried eggplant along with stewed tomatoes and chickpeas provides a firm layer of flavor to support the sharp chilies, salty, briny capers, and fresh basil. I prefer to eat these while the eggplant mixture is still hot, but they’re also pretty darn good served cold or at room temperature. 



Makes at least 2 dozen crostinis

-1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
-¼ cup olive oil + additional
-1 medium sweet onion, diced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1-3 oil-preserved Calabrian chilis, minced
-2 medium tomatoes, diced
-1 tsp red wine vinegar
-1 cup veggie stock
-1 cup chickpeas
-2 tbsp tomato paste
-fresh basil
-black pepper
-1 baguette, cut into diagonal slices

1.    Put a large frying pan over medium heat and add the ¼ cup olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and a pinch of salt and fry for about 5-7 minutes or until eggplant has softened and is no longer bitter. Remove eggplant from the pan and set aside.

2.    Return the same frying pan to medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and the onion along with a pinch of salt and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the garlic and chilies and cook for another 1 minute. Then return the eggplant to the pan along with the tomatoes, vinegar, veggie stock, chickpeas and tomato paste. Stir to combine and cook for about 5-10 minutes or until everything thickens up to a saucy consistency. Salt to taste and then remove from heat. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator. The eggplant mixture can be made ahead of time and will keep for about a week in the fridge.

3.    Toast your baguette slices with a brush of olive oil under a broiler for 1-2 minutes or until they start to get brown and crispy. Top slices with a generous spoonful of the eggplant mixture. Then finish with fresh ground black pepper to taste, a smattering of capers and fresh basil.