It's hard to say if Caponata is best served as a side, or on its own with some cheese on top. It's as versatile as guacamole, but it holds so much texture and flavor that you almost want to have it as your main dish.
For a medium sized bowl like the one in the picture, which usually serves 4 people as a side dish, you need:
1 large eggplant, cubed
3 large tomatoes, peeled, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
handful of pinenuts
handful of raisins
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp chopped up basil, parsley or oregano for topping before serving
Heat up the olive oil on medium heat and add the onion and garlic to cook first. When they are halfway transparent, add the eggplant. Make sure the eggplant is translucent and softer when you touch it during stirring. About 5 minutes into cooking the eggplant, you will be ready to add the tomatoes. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. You might need to add a cup of water if the tomatoes are not juicy enough, but the caponata will cook for an extra 15 minutes, covered. Add the pine nuts and raisins and keep cooking until the mixture becomes homogeneous. This usually takes another 20 minutes. Keep adding water if necessary, but make sure all of it is evaporated at the end. Add salt and pepper, stir and take off the heat, covered. Serve cold with chopped up green herbs on top.
This is a great complement to chicken or beef and can be enjoyed with some black olives and fresh cheese like mozzarella, cotija, paneer or feta cheese.