Caponata is one of the most famous Sicilian dishes and must be a first cousin of ratatouille found over the border from our Ligurian olive groves in Provence. Like ratatouille it always tastes better the next day and can be served as a starter or as a side dish.
Caponata has that wonderful Sicilian sweet and sour finish but it is the choice of the eggplant which is the key to the success of a really good Caponata. If possible, choose young eggplants which don’t have so many seeds or if you are making it with more mature eggplants you need to remove the excess water. Simply put the cubes of eggplant into a colander over the sink or on a plate and sprinkle with salt and leaving it to steep for an hour. Then gently press down on the eggplant using a small plate to remove excess liquid. Dry the eggplant cubes before you start the Caponata.
- Small young eggplant, 1 kg/ 2.2 lb cut into small cubes
- Nudo extra virgin olive oil, 375 ml/ 12.5 fl oz or a few good glugs
- Celery stalks, 3 cut into roughly 1cm pieces
- Red onion, 1 roughly chopped
- Garlic, 2 cloves finely sliced
- Canned tomatoes, 400g/ 14 oz
- Capers, a handful rinsed and drained
- Pine nuts, a handful
- Green olives, 100g/ 3.5 oz pitted
- Fresh marjoram or dried oregano (as you prefer), 1 sprig
- Red wine vinegar, 75 ml/ 2.5 fl oz
- Sugar, 1 tbsp – optional
- Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
- Flat-leaf parsley, 1 small bunch with leaves roughly chopped
- Toasted ciabatta to serve with it
- Step 1
- Heat the Nudo extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the eggplant chunks in batches until they are nice and golden all over, shaking the pan to make sure they are all covered in oil. Cook on a high heat for 4 minutes and then remove with a slotted spoon.
- Step 2
- There should still be enough oil left in the saucepan but if it has all been absorbed by the eggplant add another glug. Add the celery and sauté until soft but not coloured, seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Step 3
- Then add to this the onion, garlic and two thirds of the parsley until soft keeping them moving and taking care not to let them burn. Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes stirring from time to time as the tomatoes reduce into a sauce.
- Step 4
- In with the drained capers, pine nuts, pitted olives and marjoram or dried oregano and stir in the red wine vinegar.
- Step 5
- Stir in the egg plants and cook for about another ten minutes making sure it does not catch.
- Step 6
- Adjust the seasoning to your liking – more vinegar or a tablespoon of sugar but this is purely to your taste.
- Step 7
- Drizzle with Nudo’s extra virgin olive oil and stir in the remaining parsley leaves just before serving.
- Step 8
- Enjoy with toasted ciabatta.