Southern Italian appetizer a seasonal treat.
Caponata has long been one of my favorite summer appetizers. Eggplant, tomatoes and onions make for a heavenly combination. There are probably as many recipes as there are cooks in southern Italy. Over the years, I’ve made many different variations. Here’s the one I contrived for July 2015. I didn’t measure anything, but caponata is not a dish that requires precision, so have at it.
3/4 cup +/- extra-virgin olive oil
1 half medium red onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
1/3 cup large black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2-3 Tbsp. capers
1 Tbsp. sugar (or to taste)
1/3 cup red -wine vinegar
1 (14- to 15-oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped
Peel eggplants, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Spread on half of a kitchen towel in a jellyroll pan. Sprinkle with salt, then cover with other half of the towel and weight with a second baking sheet topped with cast-iron pans for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy skillet over medium high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the onion, and cook stirring occasionally, until pale golden (6 to 8 minutes). Add celery and garlic, and cook, stirring, occasionally until onion and celery are golden brown and soft (about 10 minutes). Add eggplant cubes and cook about 10 minutes Add olives, capers and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes. Stir in vinegar and tomatoes, breaking tomatoes with a wooden spoon.
Reduce heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. If sauce is very acidic, add a bit more sugar (to taste). Transfer to a bowl and keep warm, covered. Cool room temperature and let stand, for at least 3 hours. Stir before serving.
Like many Spanish tapas, caponata can be eaten at various temperatures. I like it at room temperature, served with thinly sliced good-quality Italian or French bread,