Heat up your next cookout with some spicy Eggplant Caponata! A classic caponata recipe, kicked up with hot peppers & salsa verde + perfectly grilled steak + crumbly cheese = summer salad perfection!
What do you get when you mix Italian and Mexican cuisines?
A whooooole lot of unexpected flavor.
Summer cookouts are drawing to a close. Grill covers are coming out and slow cookers are taking up their seasonal places in our kitchens.
Personally, I welcome the change with open arms, but don’t put up your grills just yet – I’ve got a delicious dinner you HAVE to try first!
Outdoor entertaining in the South is one of those things that’s really hit or miss.
Sometimes, it’s really enjoyable with perfect weather, maybe a sea breeze on your skin.
And sometimes it’s just downright miserable when you can’t escape the humidity and the mosquitoes.
The latter is more common, unfortunately, but we do have some nice fall and spring months where we can get in some good outdoorsy time.
Of course, I’m a little biased. You all know how I feel about the weather down here.
Some people love it, and would rather it be hot and humid all year round.
My friend Lara loves the summer more than anyone else I know, and will willingly bake in the sun on the beach for 6 or 8 hours and sweat her butt off just for a little color.
That’s just not my bag. The western European in me doesn’t do well in the burning sun.
That being said, my favorite sort of outdoor celebrations absolutely include the grill…just preferably one located in plenty of shade. There’s something so earthy and primal about enjoying food cooked over a fire as opposed to over a stove.
In my mind, one of the best things to cook on the grill is definitely a big juicy steak.
I used to eat steak as a kid every once in a while, but as an adult, it’s on my menu at least once a week, almost every week. I still can’t decide if I prefer charcoal over gas or vice versa – I go back-and-forth depending on what we have as far as a grill situation.
Right now, we’re spoiled and have a dual grill, so I get to take my pick.
We play with a lot of different marinades in our house, and for this meal, we had a jar of salsa verde just aching to be used. (There are always chips and salsa in the house for last-minute snack purposes when our friends stop by.)
We also had a handful of farmers market veggies that needed to be used ASAP. Putting on my Chopped thinking cap, I ended up with an unusual version of caponata, the Sicilian eggplant-based relish, that ended up looking more like a big, fat, chunky veggie salad with grill marks.
Even with the colorful blend of deliciousness going on in the bowl, I felt like the caponata still needed something.
I already tossed some of the fresh & delicious salsa verde in with the steak marinade, so rounding out the flavors by tossing more of it with the eggplant was the something I was looking for. It helped bring out those authentic flavors and enhanced the Mex-talian hybrid I didn’t even know I was creating.
Well, that and the cheese. Everything is better with cheese.
The beautiful thing about this grilled steak caponata is that it’s OK to be made ahead of time – and it should be! Eggplant is like a food sponge, and it soaks up more and more flavor over time, so prepping it a day or two beforehand results in such a delish dish.
It’s great served cold or hot, also, so no need to heat it if you’re outside manning the steaks on the grill.
More eggplant and steak recipes to make your mouth water!
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Spicy Eggplant Caponata with Steak
- 1 ½ pounds steak ribeye or sirloin
- 1 cup salsa verde
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
- ½ red onion diced
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 zucchini cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 poblano pepper chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper diced, with some seeds
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large tomato diced
- ½ cup salsa verde
- 1 medium eggplant peeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- Kosher salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Red pepper flakes to taste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish
- ⅓ cup Cotija cheese or queso fresco
- Place steak, salsa, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, and cumin in a large ziploc bag. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
- While the steaks marinate, make the caponata. Heat 1½ Tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and zucchini and saute about 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened.
- Stir in peppers and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant. Add tomato and salsa and stir to combine, cooking 1-2 more minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Heat remaining olive oil in skillet set over medium-high. Add eggplant and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, so all sides get an even sear. Reduce heat to medium and cook an additional 2-3 minutes before adding the other vegetables back in to the skillet.
- Season vegetables with salt, black and red pepper to taste. Add red wine vinegar, capers, raisins, and cilantro. Stir together to combine, then remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
- When ready to grill, brush grill grates with olive oil, then heat on high flame. Remove steak from marinade and grill 2-3 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F (or to desire doneness.)
- Remove the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice thinly.
- Arrange warm or cooled caponata on plates, then lay steak slices on top. Sprinkle with cotija cheese and chopped cilantro and serve.