Caponata

A recipe from core group member Tamar:

Caponata is one of my favorite dishes of all time, but there are lots of regional variations out there (a great one is served as an appetizer at Amorina). I’ve tried many different recipes over the years, but last week I found one which finally produced the caponata of my dreams.

The dish is a sweet, sour, tangy, hearty, tomato-y, eggplant-y, sauce/salad/snack that’s works at any meal, any time of day. Some serving ideas: over pasta, with crackers (and cheese), on fresh bread with fresh mozz, on chips at a party… I could go on. It also freezes really well, so use up all your late summer haul and enjoy all winter.

Recipe adapted from Caponata/Sweet and Sour Eggplant Salad | I Sicilian. Most of my changes were either mistakes or substitutions out of desperation… be creative!

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
6 stalks celery
1/2 cup green Sicilian olives (I used Provencal olives from Sahadi’s– yum)
1/2 cup capers (optional; I omitted these)
1 red pepper
1 large onion
1  12-14 oz can tomato sauce (I used ½ jar of Francesco Rinaldi’s Sweet & Tasty Tomato Sauce; if I had fresh tomatoes I’d use them with some tomato paste)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (super important- Do not substitute! I love the ones from the apple/cider farms at the Greenmarket)
4 Tbsp sugar  (I used mostly honey plus some sugar… erring on the side of more)
Enough Olive oil to sauté ingredients separately, one at a time

Prep:

Salt the eggplant (cut in thick slices, top with generous amount of salt, place on bakers rack over sink or pan, let bitter water drip out, after at least 30 minutes rinse with water and pat dry. More info)

Cut eggplant, celery, onion and red pepper into 1 inch cubes (or smaller), keep them each in separate bowls

Pit the olives, and coarsely chop

Mix apple cider vinegar and sugar (& honey) together and set aside

Directions: (Note: I made at least double the recipe, and had pans on all 4 burners going at once. More dirty dishes, but less time…)

Start sautéing the eggplant; when it begins to take color, remove from pan and set aside in a large bowl

Sauté the celery, when it begins to take color remove from pan and add to eggplant

Sauté the onion, when slightly soft remove from pan and add to eggplant & celery.

In your biggest pan, sauté olives, red pepper, and capers (if using). After 1-2 minutes return the other already cooked vegetables into the pan. Stir.

Add tomato sauce and mix well.

Add the vinegar mixture and cook for about 45 minutes on medium to low heat, or until veggies are soft and sauce is thick.

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