Caponata Siciliana di Melanzane alla Giudia

I gathered with my dear friend Joan Nathan this week. We are each cooking a recipe from her new book, King Solomon’s Table.  I just love her caponata. It is a bit different than mine in that it has carrots and celery in it. I recently adapted my recipe to hers. So here I share with you Joan’s recipe with only a few variations.

Caponata Siciliana di Melanzane alla Giudia
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Jewish-Style
  • ½ cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • One 14-ounce (395- gram) can high-quality plum tomatoes, or 2 large tomatoes, chopped and juice reserved
  • ¼ cup (35 grams) currants or golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional )
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 medium eggplants unpeeled (about 2 ½ pounds/1 kilo), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) pitted green olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup pitted black olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1.3 cup (45 grams) pine nuts, toasted preferably Sicilian
  • Handful of fresh basil or fresh parsley,chopped
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and tablespoons of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and their juices, currants or raisins, sugar (if using), vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook partially covered over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, heat the remaining oil in a separate large nonstick frying pan set over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant, in batches if necessary, and salt and pepper to tase. Cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, once again stirring occasionally, until the eggplant softens and turns golden. The eggplant will quickly absorb the oil, but do not add more; he oil will release as the eggplant cooks.
  4. Add the eggplant, olives, capers, and pine nuts to the pan with the tomato mixture, stir gently to combine, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the basil or parsley, and adjust seasoning. Serve cold or at room temperature as an antipasto with crackers, or as a side dish.
Note: when making this dish, I taste it and if, at the end, it needs more oomph, I add either lemon juice or a bit of ketchup, depending on what I have on hand. Caponata always tastes much better after sitting for at least a few hours or overnight.


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