- 1 small eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch-thick planks, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for coating lamb
- 2 small ribs celery from the heart, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cubanelle pepper or small green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 small yellow or red onion, chopped
- 2 - 3 large cloves garlic, crushed or sliced
- 1 can (14 to 15 oz.) crushed tomatoes or 1 1/2 cups passata (tomato puree)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped Sicilian or other good-quality pitted green olives
- 3 tablespoons capers in brine, drained
- A small handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- A few leaves basil, torn
- 2 loins of lamb (about 3/4 lb. each)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed or fennel pollen
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- Crusty bread, for serving
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Arrange the eggplant on a kitchen towel. Sprinkle with salt and let sit a few minutes to drain out some of the juices.
To make the caponata, in a medium saucepan, heat 3 tbsp. olive oil, three turns of the pan, over medium-high. Add the celery, pepper, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Pat the eggplant dry and add to the pot. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley and basil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, then cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, 12 to 15 minutes more.
While the vegetables cook, coat the lamb in olive oil and sprinkle with the fennel, crushed red pepper, oregano and granulated garlic; season. Place on a rack set inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loin registers 135 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes. Slice the lamb on a slight angle into 1/2-inch thick medallions.
Spoon the caponata onto plates. Top with the lamb. Serve with a piece of torn crusty bread.