Caponata is a traditional Sicilian eggplant dish. Similar to the French ratatouille, this late summer vegetable stew is packed with flavour and wonderful served warm or cold. Generally the eggplant is fried, but I find grilling limits the amount of oil in the finished dish. The addition of vinegar and capers contrasts with the sweetness of the vegetables and provides that magical Agrodolce sweet and sour taste this Italian region is famous for.
1 eggplant, thickly sliced
60 ml (1/4 cup) + extra, olive oil
2 red onions, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, cut in halves
150 g celery, thickly sliced
1 kg tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped or 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
80 ml (1/3 cup) red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
freshly cracked black pepper
16 green olives, stoned & coarsely chopped
2 tbsp capers
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 tsp Aleppo Chilli Flakes (optional)
800 g baked ricotta, cut into wedges
1 sml handful basil leaves
- Preheat an open barbecue grill. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and grill until charred and slightly softened. Reserve to the side.
- Gently fry the onions and garlic in the 60 ml olive oil until softened, and then add the celery and chopped tomato.
- Stir through the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper and leave to simmer until the quantity is reduced in volume by half.
- Cut the pre-cooked eggplant into large chunks and add with the olives, capers, pine nuts and Aleppo chilli flakes and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Warm the baked ricotta drizzled with a little olive oil in a preheated 200 c oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
- Stir the basil leaves through the caponata and serve alongside a wedge of warm baked ricotta.