Let's Cook with Meg and Ted

Caponata siciliana

This is from Antonio Carluccio's Vegetables, and this is what he has to say about it: "There are numerous caponata type dishes all over Italy. The original is from Sicily, which is based on aubergine, one of the most important and versatile Sicilian vegetables. Many Sicilian dishes have centuries-old Arabic origins, and often have sweet and sour contrasts. Caponata is a vegetable fry-up to be eaten warm or cold, by itself or with bread as a starter, or to accompany meat and fish dishes."

This dish has a spectacular flavour different to all of my usual cooking. I like to eat it on a bed of plain couscous. I have to add that this is the only dish that has ever made me say "mmm, celery, yum."

1 kgaubergines, topped, tailed and cubed (salted if you like)
100 mlolive oil
2onions, coarsley chopped
2celery hearts (the most tender centre parts, including the leaves), coarsley chopped and blanched
400 gtomato pulp (home made if possible, otherwise use an Italian bottled sugo)
30 gpine nuts
25 gsalted capers, rinsed well
200 gpitted olives
a fewbasil leaves, torn
1 tablespooncaster sugar
50 mlwhite wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the aubergine cubes in some hot olive oil until brown, then set aside. In the same pan, use a little more oil to fry the onion until softened. Add the blanched celery, tomato pulp, pine nuts, capers and olives, and fry until the celery is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now add the aubergine and some of the basil, and cook for 8-10 minutes more. Finally, add the sugar and the vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes to let the sharpness of the vinegar evaporate, and serve with some more basil on top.

Serves 6.

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