Sicilian Eggplant Relish
Caponata, or capunatina in Sicilian dialect, was always part of our Sunday antipasto plate. When I began serving Caponata at cocktail parties and buffet suppers, it was the one dish that always disappeared entirely. This relish is also delicious as a topping for crostini.
from Festa del Giardino
3 ripe medium sized eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds)
salt (to sprinkle on eggplant)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus 1/3 cup pure olive oil
2 large onions, coarsely chopped
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 12-ounce can of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
3 fresh basil leaves, slivered
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1/4 cup of capers, drained and rinsed
1 cup of small green olives, pitted and sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, or more to taste
scant 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
- Remove the stems from the eggplants and discard.
Cut unpeeled eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and salt liberally. Drain in a colander with a heavy weight, such as a pot or a glass-mixing bowl, on top for 1 hour to allow the bitter juices to drain off. Rinse of salt, squeeze well and dry with absorbent paper. Set aside.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet; add the onions and celery and sauté covered for 5 to 8 minutes
until slightly softened. Pour in tomatoes, add basil, salt and pepper Simmer for 10 minutes.
- In another large skillet, sauté the eggplant in 1/3 cup of hot olive oil.
Add more oil if necessary to prevent sticking; (eggplant absorbs a lot of oil as it cooks.) After 15 minutes, transfer the sautéed eggplant to the skillet with the onion-and-celery mixture, stirring until evenly mixed.
- Sprinkle the mixture with sugar, pour vinegar over, and stir. Cover and simmer slowly over low heat for 10 to 15,
Refrigerate foe at least 24 hours, or up to 3 days. The flavor improves with time. Serve warm or cold as a antipasto, a salad, or a topping for crostini. Caponata may be frozen up to 3 months.