Caponata (Sweet and sour eggplant stew)
"If Sicily's persona was a dish, caponata would be it: a celebration of contrasts. It is both sweet and sour. The combination of sweet and sour even has its own name, agrodolce. After two weeks in the region I had ordered caponata many times and discovered that each version had its own style, sometimes surprisingly pulpy and stewy, other times firm and cold, like a salad. My recipe has a slightly firm texture but still plays homage to its stewed nature, perfect for spreading over crusty bread or including on an antipasto platter." ~ from Nadia's cookbook A Vegan Summer in Southern Italy.
Serves 2 starters | Prep time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 35 mins
- 2 medium-large eggplants
- 2/3 cup olive oil + 2 tablespoons
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 celery sticks, diced
- 1.5 cups (380g) tomato passata
- 1/4 cup of capers
- 1/2 cup pitted olives
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- handful of basil leaves, optional
- Cut the eggplants into cubes. Heat ½ cup of the oil in a large frypan and fry eggplant until golden brown. You may need to cook it in batches. Pour in extra oil if necessary. Drain well on absorbent paper.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan and sauté the onion for a couple of minutes, allowing it to soften. Add the celery and cook for a further minute. Stir through passata, capers and olives. Simmer for 5 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
- Add the vinegar and sugar and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While simmering the vegetables, lightly toast the pine nuts. Place pine nuts in a non-stick frypan and dry roast over a low heat for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent from burning. Remove from the heat when the nuts begin to turn a light brown.
- Stir the toasted pine nuts and salt through the eggplant and tear in the basil leaves, if using, just before serving.
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Nadia is a cookbook author, recipe creator, presenter and vegan Italian expert. She has been creating vegan recipes since 2001 and loves to share her passion for recreating Italian classics through her blog The Vegan Italian Kitchen and her cookbooks Discovering Vegan Italian and A Vegan Summer in Southern Italy. See all recipes by Nadia