The eggplant is even better if you salt it the night before and let it drain overnight!
For the roasted eggplant caponata:
- 1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds), cut in 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar
- 1 pint mixed cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 celery stalks, finely diced
- 1/2 cup sliced green olives
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- Additional chopped parsley, to garnish
For the chicken thighs:
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Prepare the eggplant: In a large bowl, combine diced eggplant with 1/2 tablespoon salt. Place the eggplant in a colander set inside a large bowl. Strain at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours. The longer you strain the eggplant, the crispier it will get.
When ready to roast, press the eggplant firmly to squeeze out moisture.
2 Place a large baking sheet on a middle rack in the oven and preheat to 450ºF for 15 to 20 minutes.
3 Prepare the chicken: In a shallow bowl, combine chicken with paprika, red pepper, fennel, salt, pepper, and one tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat.
The chicken can also be prepared, covered, and refrigerated overnight.
4 Roast the eggplant and chicken: When you’re ready to cook, toss the eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Working quickly, pull the baking sheet from the oven and place chicken skin side down. Add the eggplant in a single layer around the chicken.
Return the hot pan to the oven and immediately lower the heat to 425ºF. Roast for 15 minutes. Flip the chicken skin side up, and roast another 15 minutes, or until the thighs are cooked through and register 165ºF with an instant-read thermometer.
5 Prepare the rest of the caponata: In a large bowl, whisk together the balsamic and the honey or sugar. Add the cherry tomatoes, celery, green olives, capers, parsley, and garlic. Toss to combine well.
6 Finish and serve: When chicken is ready, transfer it to a plate and rest for 10 minutes.
Add the roasted eggplant and the pan juices to the bowl with the cherry tomato mixture, and stir well. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Mix pine nuts into the caponata just before serving so they retain their crunch.
Serve the chicken thighs and top with the caponata. Sprinkle with extra parsley.