Caponata (version IV)

1 large eggplant, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch dice
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup olive oil
3 very ripe plum tomatoes, pureed
1/2 cup mixed brine-cured Sicilian green and black olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley

Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt; let drain, stirring occasionally, for one hour.

Heat two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers, pine nuts, and raisins. Season with pepper and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Let stand, covered.

Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt and dry on a kitchen towel.

Heat the remaining olive oil in another large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant in batches and cook, stirring, for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through but still firm. Season the eggplant with salt and pepper, remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.

Add the celery to the skillet and cook over medium heat until softened.

Add the celery and eggplant to the tomato mixture and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and sugar and cook for another 10 minutes to evaporate the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley and bring to room temperature. Should be served at room temperature as part of an antipasto.

Serves 4

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