Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Caponata di melanzane

This is the first recipe I have tried from the fantastic looking web site La cucina eoliana. Although I like to eat the caponata siciliana warm with couscous, the caponata described here is one which really does benefit from sitting for a couple of hours and being eaten at room temperature.

2medium aubergines
4large ripe tomatoes
1green capsicum
2celery stalks
10green olives
1/4 cupcapers
1/4 cupcurrants
1/4 cupslivered almonds
1/4 teaspoonunsweetened cocoa
1/4 cupred wine vinegar
2 tablespoonssugar
extra virgin olive oil as needed

Peel the aubergines and cut off the stems. Chop the flesh into 1 inch cubes, place the pieces in salted water for thirty minutes, then strain, rinse and pat dry.

Cut a shallow cross into the skin at the base of each tomato. Put the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove with a slotted spoon. Slip the skins off, then slice in half, remove the seeds, and chop the flesh coarsely. Slice the celery stalks into half-inch pieces, put them in the pot of boiling water and simmer for 3-5 minutes, then strain and set aside.

Press the olives with the flat of a knife to crack them, and remove the pits. Chop the olives roughly. Rinse the capers. Chop the onion and capsicum. Rehydrate the currants in a small bowl of warm water. Dissolve the sugar in the red wine vinegar in a small glass.

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pan over moderately high heat and stir-fry the eggplant until soft and lightly golden. Transfer the eggplant onto a plate and layer with paper towels to absorb the oil.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over moderate heat and fry the onion and capsicum for several minutes, then add the tomatoes, celery, olives, capers, currants, almonds, cinnamon and cocoa. Lower the heat and simmer until excess liquid has evaporated. Add the fried eggplant then stir in the sweetened red wine vinegar. Remove from the burner, place the caponata in a bowl, and let cool to room temperature before serving with bread.

Serves 4.

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