Wondering what to make for dinner tonight?
I invited my friend Elisabetta from Latina (Lazio, Italy) with her husband. She likes the Caponata, an “antipasto” but that can be also served as a side dish.
There are several variations of the Caponata in Sicily.
I inherited this recipe from my husband’s grandmother (nonna Maria) from Cefalu`,
a very beautiful seaside tourist town that is part of the “Parco delle Madonie”
(The Madonie Regional Natural Park) and is included among the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Originally the main ingredient of Caponata recipe was not eggplant but rather a prized fish in Sicily, it’s called Capone, and in other parts of Italy it’s called Lampuga. This dish was beloved by the aristocrats who lived in the beautiful palaces of the island, but it was unreachable for the poor who could not afford the luxury of buying an ingredient so valuable. So they replaced the Capone with eggplant.
The eggplants ,vegetable not known before in Sicily, were imported by the Arabs during their invasion in Sicily in the year 827 A.C..
This vegetable is the basis of many Sicilian recipes. Another very important ingredient in this recipe is the tomato, imported from Christopher Columbus returning from the Americas 700 years later.
- 4 large Italian heirloom eggplants
- 150 g green olives pitted 5.3 oz
- 90 g salted capers 3.2 oz
- 30 g raisins 1 oz
- 30 g pine nuts 1 oz
- 400 g peeled tomatoes cut into cubes 14 oz
- 90 ml white balsamic vinegar 1/3 cup
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 medium onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 3 tbsp toasted almonds (optional)
- Cut the eggplant into cubes, leave them in salted water for 20-30 minutes.
- Drain the eggplant cubes (I squeeze them with my handand fry them in hot oil.
- Dry them on paper towels and set aside.
- In a pan (large pafry the thinly sliced onion with the celery cut into small pieces.
- Add the capers, olives, raisins (softened in water), pine nuts and, after a few minutes, add the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the fried eggplant cubes and mix well and cook for another 5 minutes
- Pour in vinegar with 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix well and let evaporate at medium heat the vinegar for another 15- 20 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let cool.
- Sprinkle with toasted almonds (optional)