Sicilian Caponata

Deliciously sweet and sour, Sicilian Caponata is one of the tastiest ways to use eggplant when it is abundant. Any kind can be used to make this dish. Eaten at room temperature, this integral part of the Italian summer antipasto table also makes a great BBQ side; eaten warm, it's a tangy complement to simply cooked fish or chicken. My version of the recipe is lower in fat and less time-consuming to make since the eggplant is roasted until golden brown instead of the more traditional fried. While the eggplant roasts, you can get all the other components cooked and ready. All you have to do is tip the roasted eggplant into the pan and finish the dish. Try it.

AuthorAnn Gaffney
RatingDifficultyBeginner

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a full baking sheet with parchment paper. Put in the oven while it preheats - this will heat up the sheet and speed up the browning of the eggplant.

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Sicilian Caponata
Yields6 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time30 minsTotal Time50 mins
 ¼ cup olive oil, divided
 2 large eggplants, skin on, cut into 1" dice (see Ann's Tips)
 4 sticks of celery, in a rough dice
 1 cup water
 1 onion, diced
 2 tbsp tomato concentrate
 ¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
 ½ cup black oil cured olives, pitted
 2 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes(Optional)
 ½ cup red wine vinegar
 3 tbsp sugar or to taste
 salt to taste. (see Ann's Tips)
1

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a full baking sheet with parchment paper. Put in the oven while it preheats - this will heat up the sheet and speed up the browning of the eggplant.

2

To a large bowl, add 11/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Tip in the diced eggplant, and using your hands, toss it in the oil until each piece is lightly oiled. Take the lined baking sheet out of the oven and quickly drizzle a couple of teaspoons of oil onto the parchment. Tip the oiled eggplant onto it. Spread out into a single layer. Roast on a high shelf for 20-25 minutes or until the cut sides are golden brown. Turn once during cooking.

3

Meanwhile, put the celery and the cup of water into a small saucepot. Bring to a boil over a high flame. Cook until the celery is translucent but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.

4

While the celery and eggplant are cooking, heat the remaining oil over a medium-high flame in a large saute or braising pan. When it ripples, add the onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook stirring until it becomes transparent and is just starting to color, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato concentrate. Stir into the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes.

5

Add the celery along with its cooking water. Stir to mix. Bring to a simmer. Add the capers, pitted olives, and sundried tomatoes if using. Stir to mix. Add the roasted eggplant, red wine vinegar and sugar. Stir to mix. Cook 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Taste for salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ann's Tips
6

- You can use any kind of eggplant (aubergine) for this dish, though the dark-skinned types look nicer when cooked. The eggplant can be roasted ahead of time if you prefer.
- Go easy on adding salt. The rinsed capers, olives and celery are all pretty salty so aside from adding a pinch to the onions in step 4, it's best to leave adding more to taste until the end of cooking.

Ingredients

 ¼ cup olive oil, divided
 2 large eggplants, skin on, cut into 1" dice (see Ann's Tips)
 4 sticks of celery, in a rough dice
 1 cup water
 1 onion, diced
 2 tbsp tomato concentrate
 ¼ cup capers, rinsed and drained
 ½ cup black oil cured olives, pitted
 2 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes(Optional)
 ½ cup red wine vinegar
 3 tbsp sugar or to taste
 salt to taste. (see Ann's Tips)

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a full baking sheet with parchment paper. Put in the oven while it preheats - this will heat up the sheet and speed up the browning of the eggplant.

2

To a large bowl, add 11/2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Tip in the diced eggplant, and using your hands, toss it in the oil until each piece is lightly oiled. Take the lined baking sheet out of the oven and quickly drizzle a couple of teaspoons of oil onto the parchment. Tip the oiled eggplant onto it. Spread out into a single layer. Roast on a high shelf for 20-25 minutes or until the cut sides are golden brown. Turn once during cooking.

3

Meanwhile, put the celery and the cup of water into a small saucepot. Bring to a boil over a high flame. Cook until the celery is translucent but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and set aside.

4

While the celery and eggplant are cooking, heat the remaining oil over a medium-high flame in a large saute or braising pan. When it ripples, add the onion. Sprinkle with a little salt and cook stirring until it becomes transparent and is just starting to color, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato concentrate. Stir into the onion and cook until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes.

5

Add the celery along with its cooking water. Stir to mix. Bring to a simmer. Add the capers, pitted olives, and sundried tomatoes if using. Stir to mix. Add the roasted eggplant, red wine vinegar and sugar. Stir to mix. Cook 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Taste for salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Ann's Tips
6

- You can use any kind of eggplant (aubergine) for this dish, though the dark-skinned types look nicer when cooked. The eggplant can be roasted ahead of time if you prefer.
- Go easy on adding salt. The rinsed capers, olives and celery are all pretty salty so aside from adding a pinch to the onions in step 4, it's best to leave adding more to taste until the end of cooking.

Sicilian Caponata

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