The eggplant season has already started, it’s time for one of the best vegetable dishes in the world
ingredients for 4 abundant servings (cost about 3 € pp)
- 1 kg eggplants
- 1 large onion
- 1 can peeled tomatoes
- 250 g celery stalks
- 12 green olives
- 24 capers
- 30 g roasted pine nuts
- EV sunflower oil
- 100 ml EV olive oil
- 100 ml top quality vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- parsley for garnishing
To begin with, Caponata is the absolutely best dish we can prepare with eggplant. I love the French ratatouille, the Greek papoutsakia and the Catalan escalivada, but a well made Sicilian style Caponata is a dish of a superior class.
Caponata is eaten cool, at the garden, on the balcony, the countryside or the beach, during the wonderful spring and summer evenings, that almost all beautiful Mediterranean places offer us.
But to make a perfect Caponata we must follow some rules.
First of all the vegetables must be very fresh. We must have in mind that eggplants must be consumed 3 max 4 days after harvesting, in order to keep their aroma present and powerful and their skin (relatively) tender.
The use of celery is what raises the value of the whole preparation. I have seen cooks on the net who prepare their caponata with no celery at all !!! I really don’t understand why.
So, before preparing the dish we have to put the olives and the capers in abundant cold water in order to remove the bad aromas of brine and other conservatives. Don’t even think to overpass this stage.
We start cutting the eggplant into medium size cubes. We salt them and we put them in a large strainer for about an hour in order to remove some of their liquids. If we treat them this way, the eggplants will absorb less oil during frying. After this period of time we pat them dry and we fry them in batches in EV sunflower oil at 180 Celsius degrees.
Meanwhile, in a pot with boiling salted water we boil the celery stalks, cut in pieces, till tender. If the stalks are large and thick and we suspect that they may have tough fibers, we peel them and we discard their lower part.
We then make a sauce, frying gently a diced onion in the olive oil and adding a can of peeled tomatoes. After 10 minutes we add the olives, the capers, the sugar and the vinegar and we continue for about 5 more minutes.
We add the eggplants and the celery and we continue for no more than two minutes. We remove the pan from the heat and we set aside.
Once the caponata has cooled, we put it in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, however I suggest that you leave it for the whole night, or even more, for the expected exchange of aromas to take place.
Before consuming the caponata, we remove it from the fridge at least half an hour before serving and we add the pine nuts and the chopped parsley.
We can keep the caponata in the refrigerator for at least 3 days.