Caponata Siciliana

Caponata Siciliana (Sicilian Caponata)
Excerpted from Made in Italy by David Rocco
Serves 4-6

Caponata is one of the quintessential dishes of Sicily. Although the basic ingredients stay the same (eggplant, tomato, olives, pine nuts), each version has its own spin on the classic dish. David Rocco’s recipe is pretty traditional, and we can vouch that the result is absolutely delicious. Caponata is great to serve as an appetizer with grilled or crusty bread, and also great to eat as a main course, over pasta.

1/2 cup (125 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 large eggplants, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, diced
Chili pepper flakes (optional)
3 tbsp (45 mL) capers
1 handful green olives, pitted
3 tbsp (45 mL) pine nuts
3–4 tbsp (45–60 mL) red wine vinegar
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) peeled plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (optional)

Get a large pan and heat up your olive oil. Add your eggplant, onions, celery and garlic, season with a little salt (and if you want some heat, some chili flakes) and cook on high heat for about 5 minutes, tossing every so often so the vegetables stay fully coated in the oil. When they’ve softened and are slightly golden, add the capers, olives and pine nuts. Give it all a good stir so that the ingredients mingle nicely. Add the red wine vinegar. Stir and let cook for a few minutes. Then add the tomatoes, bring to a boil, lower the heat and let it simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Taste for seasonings and add parsley at the very end. Serve warm as a contorno or cold as an antipasto, but either way, include some nice crusty bread per fare la scarpetta—to mop up the beautiful sauce.