Yesterday during our weekly visit at Ca’ – Cucina in Hellerup (Denmark) we saw a lot of fruit and vegetables, including eggplants and celery ….the right ingredients to make caponata, a traditional Sicilian recipe. Every area in Sicily has its own version. We prepared the one we got from a dear friend from Palermo.
INGREDIENTS for 4 servings:
1/2 kg eggplant
1 small onion, cubed
∼ 1/2 glass wine vinegar (add more to give it a sour taste)
∼ 50 gr sugar (add more to give it a sweeter taste)
70 gr capers
300 gr tomato sauce
150 gr green olive in salamoia, drained and cut
1 stick celery, cut in small pieces
2- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
oil to fry the eggplant
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the capers, celery and olives for 5 minutes, drain them and keep aside. Remove the stalks from the eggplant, cut them in ∼ 1/5 cm round slices, put in a colander, sprinkle each slice with coarse salt and leave them for around an hour. In this way the bitterness goes away with the water and the eggplants will be more crunchy.
Meanwhile, in a large cooking pan sautè 3-4 tbs extra virgin olive oil and the onion over a medium-high heat for few minutes, then add the tomato sauce. Season with salt, cover with a lid and let it simmer gently for around 30 mins, stirring occasionally (if it becomes too dense add a bit of water).
Gently rinse the eggplants to remove the salt and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper. Cut the eggplant slices in cubes.
Pour oil into a small deep frying pot, and put on a high heat. Use a lot of oil to fry the eggplants, which have to float into it. The best oil to fry is extra vergine oil, or other oil with an high smoke point. The oil has to be hot (180 °C). If you can’t measure the temperature try by putting into the oil a small bread piece, if it starts bubbling then the oil has reached the right temperature. Fry the eggplant cubes until golden brown and let cool on the absorbing paper.
Add the vinegar and the sugar in the tomato sauce, gently mix and then add the cappers, olives and celery and the eggplants, mix again. Let the caponata cool and enjoy it!
Tips: finish this Mediterranean dish with some slices of roasted almonds.