Sicilian Caponata...

I used to simply hate aubergine (eggplant), now I can't get enough of it. My distaste for it was mainly because of the way it used to be prepared good few years back, when it wasn't so popular yet and wasn't so widely known - at least not in Poland. It was simply sliced, salted and deep fried in oil (at which point it would soak up all the oil and would be sooo greasy, that I just couldn't make myself to eat it...).

But I do know there's more to this versatile veg - I just have to look at the Mediterranean cuisine to have more than one proof of it! So, hoping to restore my faith in this beautifully looking veg, I bought some recently and decided to give it a try. After a good look through my cookbooks the choice was made - as I trust Hugh ("River Cottage Veg" cookbook) and none of his recipes failed me before, that was the one. And the result.... I'm a complete convert! I love it!!! What's more - I've already marked more recipes to try and will be buying aubergine by kilos now. Caponata turned out to be quite easy and fuss free to prepare, it's delicious both warm and cold. The smell is fantastic and it tastes very fresh (even though it's supposed to be stew, so something we associate with winter and quite heavy dishes...).

"Caponata is a Sicilian aubergine (eggplant) dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers in a sweet and sour sauce. Numerous local variations of the ingredients exist with some versions adding olives, carrots and green bell peppers, and others adding potatoes, or pine nuts and raisins." - by

How to make it...

- 2 medium aubergines 500 g, cut into 1 cm cubes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 inner celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped (I used 2, as I like garlic a lot)
- 6 large plum or other ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped or a 400 g can plum tomatoes, chopped any tough ends and skin removed (I used tinned tomatoes)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated dark chocolate, optional (didn't use any)
- 50 g golden raisins
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed (unfortunately didn't have any, so didn't use it)
- 60 g pitted green olives, sliced (used black ones, as they are my favourite, which I always have home)
- good handful of flat-leaf parsley or mint, chopped, to finish


- Put aubergine in a colander and add 2 teaspoons of salt salt. 
- Toss together to mix salt well within the aubergine. 
- Leave to drain for 30 minutes, rinse and pat dry. 
- While the aubergine is salting, heat half the olive oil in a saucepan. 
- Add onion, celery and garlic and fry gently for 10 minutes. 
- Add tomatoes with their juice and simmer for 5 minutes. 
- When the tomatoes have reduced slightly add balsamic vinegar, sugar, chocolate (if using), sultanas, capers and olives. 
- Simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring often. 
- Turn off the heat and leave like that. 
- Heat the remaining oil in a wide frying pan and fry the aubergine for 5-10 minutes until golden. 
- Add to the tomato sauce. 
- Return to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes then remove from heat, cover and allow to cool. 
- Serve straight away or leave for a day to deepen the flavours. 
- Sprinkle with parsley or mint before serving.


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