Yield: 4 – 6 servings
Time: 45 minutes
Caponata di Melanzane, a traditional dish from Sicily. The sweet and sour combination common in the Arab cuisine is strongly represented in Sicilian food. Caponata is one of its best examples. If time permits, prepare the Caponata a day in advance to allow flavors to mingle. Serve at room temperature.
Caponata is often made in advance in larger quantities like pickles and other savory preserves. It can be stored in sealed jars for use throughout the year.
- 2 ½ cups (560 g) eggplants, cut into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 2″ (5 cm) pieces
- 1 cup (225 g) onions, roughly chopped
- 3 1/2 cups (800 g) canned tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
- 4 Tbsp green olives or black olives
- 3 Tbsp capers
- 3 Tbsp golden raisins
- 5-6 Tbsp white vinegar
- 3/4 cup (180 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- fresh basil and celery tops finely shredded (optional)
Preheat oven to 400ºF/200ºC. Place cubed eggplant on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast it for 20 minutes turning once.
In the meantime, heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery pieces. Continue cooking for 5 minutes longer. Add tomatoes, olives, raisins, and capers. Cook for 15 minutes longer at low heat stirring now and then. Add eggplants and white vinegar to the tomato-onion-celery mix. Cook for an additional 15 minutes. Taste for salt, pepper, additional vinegar or sugar, if necessary to achieve the sweet and sour balance. Garnish with fresh basil and celery tops finely shredded.
Caponata can be savored in many ways: as a topping for a crostini, with eggs, as a side dish for roasts or on its own with a crusty bread.