Sicily, with its breathtaking landscapes has equally amazing food and culture. Because of the diverse influences over generations, it has a rich and diverse culinary tradition such as the iconic Eggplant Caponata.
800 gr (1.7 lb) eggplant
250 gr (0.5 lb) celery
200 gr (0.4 lb) white onion
200 gr (0.4 lb) fresh tomatoes
80 gr (3 oz) pitted sweet (not in vinegar) black olives
50 gr (1.7 oz) capers
50 gr (1.7 oz) pine nuts
50 gr (1.7 oz) sugar
60 ml (¼ cup) white wine vinegar
50 gr (1.7 oz) tomato paste
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lt (approx. 4 cups) sunflower oil
Mise en place:
Dice eggplant into approximately 1/2 inch cubes.
Finely chopped celery.
Toasted pine nuts (3 minutes in a non-stickpan, on medium heat and no oil)
Roughly chopped tomatoes.
Thinly sliced onion.
Start out by adding sunflower oil in a pot, then bring the oil to the right temperature to fry eggplant cubes (350 °F). Fry them (do not overcrowd the pot so you avoid decreasing the temperature too much, which will cause eggplant to be soggy).
Once fried, place eggplant on absorbent paper to remove excess oil, then drizzle a pan with a generous touch of olive oil. Sauté the thinly sliced onion in olive oil and as soon as it becomes translucent, add the chopped celery.
Let this mixture cook on medium heat to soften the celery (3 to 5 minutes) then add roughly chopped tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, capers, olives, chopped basil, previously fried eggplant and then add salt and pepper.
Cover with a lid and let simmer for at least 10 minutes to bind flavors, meanwhile mix tomato paste, white wine vinegar and sugar in a glass, stir properly and add this “sauce” to the ingredients above. Cook to the point that the smell of vinegar dissipates (this should take a few minutes) stirring occasionally.
Turn off the heat and let the caponata rest at least 1 hour before serving, because this dish is best served at room temperature.
Plate the caponata into small plates or bowls paired with a couple slices of toasted rustic Italian bread.
Caponata pairs nicely with a Vermentino white wine.