A few years ago we had a lovely holiday in Sicily – I remember seeing miles and miles of eggplant farms and eating many versions of this dish. I have tried many caponata recipes and this is my favourite . This eggplant dish is lovely served warm or cool, it keeps well in the fridge so you have your vegies sorted for a couple of meals. Caponata makes a beautiful side to some grilled lamb, tuna or swordfish.
1 medium eggplant
1 tab olive oil
1 stalk celery, trimmed, sliced thinly
1 medium (150g) onion, sliced thinly
400g tin peeled and diced tomatoes
2 red capsicums, diced
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon pine nuts, optional
a handful of black or green olives
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the eggplant into small cubes, sprinkle with a little salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Pat dry. *Heat oil in a large pan, add onion, capsicum and celery, Cook over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring.
Add tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and crushed garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add olives and capers, stir well. Simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle pinenuts over to serve.
* To salt or not to salt? In Europe eggplant is salted before cooking to remove the bitter juices, but the improved varieties grown in Australia have lost this bitterness – unless they have been on a greengrocer’s shelf too long. Some say salting also helps to reduce the amount of oil absorbed during cooking.