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Cooking lessons from Rome

Sicilian caponata

March 18, 2009

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Serves 6

Serve caponata at room temperature with roast meats, grilled fish, or with a green salad.

2 medium (about 1 pound total) eggplant, stem end trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt, and more to taste
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
4 stalks celery without the leaves, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
3 heaping tablespoons capers in vinegar, drained
6 large green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
4 large fresh basil leaves
5 stems fresh parsley, leaves only

1. In a colander, layer the eggplant and salt. Place the colander in a bowl; set aside for 30 minutes to drain.

2. In a large flameproof casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and celery and cook, stirring often, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the celery is tender when pierced with a fork. Add the tomatoes, capers, and olives. Simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes more. Turn off the heat.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet (large enough to hold the cut eggplant in a single layer), heat the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the pieces are golden brown and tender when tested with a fork. To be sure, taste a piece.

4. Add the eggplant to the tomato mixture. Turn the heat to medium. Add the vinegar and sugar and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add salt, if you like.

5. Chop the basil and parsley together. Add them to the eggplant mixture. Stir well.

Judith Barrett