Eggplant Caviar (version VII)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups celery, chopped
2 large onions, chopped
2 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cups mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
20 large ripe black olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
freshly-ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery and onions and sauté until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant and cook until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon. Add vinegar, sugar, tomato paste and mushrooms to skillet and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes. Return celery, onion, and eggplant to skillet. Add capers, black olives and parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer until eggplant is very tender and sauce is thick, about 15 minutes.

Cool, then refrigerate, covered, for 24 hours before serving.

Yield: 5 to 6 cups

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