Caponata, Cooked Eggplant Salad

It is eggplant season. Market stands are piled high with the tear-shaped violet-purple-black vegetable. Caponata or capunata as my Sicilian grandparents would say is a cooked eggplant salad made with fried eggplant, celery and capers seasoned with vinegar and sugar. While variations of ingredients exist with some recipes adding raisins, potatoes and pine nuts and others including peppers, olives and carrots, I cherish my grandmother’s version.

Caponata

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds eggplant
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1-2 sliced onions
  • capers to taste
  • green olives to taste
  • homemade tomato paste to taste
  • salt
  • Olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • sugar
  • 1-2 cups good quality red wine vinegar
  • black pepper

Wash and dice eggplant. Sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander to drain for at least one hour. Squeeze to get rid of excess liquid. Deep fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper. Clean and cut celery. Fry celery until golden. Saute onion in the same oil until translucent. Dilute tomato paste with warm water and add to the sauteed onion. Season with salt. Continue to cook for 10-20 minutes over medium heat. Add sugar, vinegar, capers, olives, eggplant and celery. Sprinkle with black pepper and simmer until done, approximately 15 minutes. Serve cold.

Note: This dish tastes best the following day if you can wait!

 

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