Caponata (version XVI)

3 pounds eggplant, unpeeled
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored
2 medium onions, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
4 medium tomatoes or 2 cups canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
lettuce leaves
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Keeping the vegetables separate, slice the eggplant lengthwise and then into half-inch half-moon slices. Cut the pepper into julienne strips. Peel the onions and slice into thin rounds. If using fresh tomatoes, peel them, remove the seeds, core, and cut into small chunks.

2. Place 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté the sliced onions and pepper until the onions are just wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the eggplant. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is done, about 10 minutes. Add salt, sugar, oregano, and pepper, stir, and cook about 2 minutes more.

3. Remove from the stove and gently stir in the tomatoes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Mix in the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice. Chill at least 4 hours.

4. Serve on lettuce leaves, sprinkled with parsley and pine nuts.

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