Saturday, August 2, 2014

Caponata--Sicilian Eggplant Salad

It seemed to me that caponata recipes featured in every Italian cook book and on every culinary blog. But when I served it a couple of times recently to my friends no one knew caponata, everyone though liked it very much. Particularly, my vegetarian friends enjoyed caponata as a rich and satisfying dish.

Ever since I discovered that caponata was not as popular as I thought, I have been making it very often. It can be prepared even a day ahead which makes it a very handy party dish. It can be served alone or with grilled meats.

Before I left on vacation I bought some beautiful Sicilian eggplants at my market and made caponata for an upcoming party. Then I realized that one of the guests was Sicilian. I rather avoid cooking Italian food for Italians as they are usually very particular about how the dish should taste.

When my guest saw a bowl of cooked eggplants with tomatoes, he obviously recognized right away his national dish. I was anxiously waiting for his verdict. Just after the first bite of caponata when all the flavors melted in his mouth he raised his thumb with approval. And as a proof that my caponata was really good he took a second portion. By the end of the evening a big bowl of caponata disappeared to the last piece, complemented by all the guests.

So today I share a recipe for caponata that is Sicilian-approved.


4 medium eggplants,
1 large onion, chopped,
1/4 cup golden raisins,
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 Roma tomatoes, peeled,
1/4 cup sugar,
1/4 cup red wine vinegar,
1/4 cup green pitted olives,
2 tbsp capers,
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley,
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil,
4 tbsp olive oil.

1. Cut off and discard the green ends from the eggplants, slice the eggplants, sprinkle with salt, and put aside for an hour.
2. Use paper towel to sponge up the juice that eggplants released. Cut each slice into small cubes.
3. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil until very hot. Add eggplants and fry them for about 10 minutes, turning frequently, until slightly brown. Transfer eggplants to a bowl.
4. Heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil on the same frying pan and sauté the chopped onion until transparent. Add garlic and fry for another 2 minutes.
5. To peel the tomatoes, cover them first with boiling water for a minute. Drain them, then cover with cold water. Peel them off and cut into cubes. 6. Add tomatoes to the onion and cook for about 3 minutes. Add everything to the eggplants. Season with salt and pepper.

7. On the same pan heat together sugar with vinegar until sugar dissolves. Add raisins, capers and olives. Add to the pan eggplants with tomatoes and bring everything to boil.Turn off the heat.
8. Transfer eggplants to the large bowl. Add chopped parsley and basil and cool completely. Serve cold.