Caponata is a fantastic Italian sweet and sour eggplant stew. Creamy caramelized eggplant, crisp celery and a savory sweet and sour flavor from the tomatoes, raisins, and vinegar. Yummy!
Caponata is great anytime, winter or summer. Serve it hot with toasted ciabatta bread, or chilled on crostini as an appetizer. Caponata could be served with penne pasta or cheesy polenta. Also will be a great side dish for chicken or fish.
Tip: How to reduce the bitterness of eggplants. Usually, it happens with unripe eggplant. Slice the eggplant, then sprinkle salt (coarse salt is best because less is absorbed) onto one side. Leave it for 30 minutes, to allow the solanine (a chemical found in the flesh) to reach out, and brush off with a damp cloth.
- 2 large eggplants, cut into large chunks (about 1kg)
- 1 can whole peeled Roma tomatoes
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons salted capers, drained
- 1 handful pitted green olives
- 50g raisin
- 50ml sherry vinegar (or red vinegar)
- olive oil
- sea salt
- black pepper
- a handful of oregano leaves (dried or fresh)
- handful toasted pine nuts
- basil leaves
- toasted Ciabatta bread
- Preheat the oven up to 180C.
- Eggplant is a very good absorbent and absorbs a lot of oil during frying. Usually, the dish turns out too oily. Here I use a trick that helps to make this dish low in oil. Heat a large frying pan over high heat and cook the eggplant without oil stirring occasionally. Cook till the eggplant will be golden brown and the pores are closed. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, mix well and cook 3 minutes more. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the eggplants in batches.
- Scoop the eggplants out of the pan and transfer to the ceramic baking dish. You should be left with some olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and cook slowly until vegetables are soft and onion is translucent.
- Add the vegetables to the eggplant with the rest of the ingredients. Season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Transfer to the oven and cook for about 40 minutes.