Today I woke woke up inspired, inspired by this roaring summer heat that this year is especially strong over here in Italy and is roasting the hell out of us all. One of the symbols of midsummer, for me, has always been the beautifully round, purple eggplant with its plump shape and its succulent and delicious flavor.
When I think of eggplant, what immediately comes to my mind is: Caponata and Eggplant Parmesan, today I decided to make a big dish of the first one, and it turned out so amazingly good that I can’t refrain myself from sharing the recipe here on the blog!
If you decide to treat yourself to this yummy dish, the main ingredient you are going to need is, as we said, eggplant! This recipe finds its roots in the Sicilian tradition and it is considered a staple food. Eggplants, along with some of the other ingredients, such as, basil, tomatoes, green olives, capers, pine nuts are very abundant during the summer months in Sicily. Despite the many different ways caponata can be prepared, in all the different areas of the region, its slightly sweet and sour flavor remains its unmistakable trait.
- Eggplants, 5 medium size
- Celery, 6 small stalks
- Onion, 1 medium size
- Green pitted olives, 3 Tbsp
- Capers, 3 1/2 Tbsp
- Pine nuts, 4 Tbsp
- 2 Tbsp raisins
- Tomatoes, 2 medium size, cut up in cubes
- Brown sugar, 2 Tbsp
- Apple cider vinegar, 1/4 of a cup
- Basil, 6 leaves
- Olive oil
Cut up the eggplants in big size cubes, put them in a bowl and cover them with coarse salt. Cover with a paper towel and place something heavy on it, this drain the bitterness out of the eggplants and will bring out their delicate flavor. While the eggplants sit, for at least 40 minutes, cut the celery in small slices and boil it for two minutes in boiling, salty, hot water for 2 minutes. Scoop out of the water and dry. Pour the olive oil in a pan and add the dry celery, let it cook on a small flame. After 5 minutes add the onion and cook for 10 minutes adding some water periodically to help soften it. Turn off the flame and let it sit. In a different pan cook the eggplants in olive oil, don’t stir often but let it brown nicely on each side. When the middle of the eggplant is soft and tender, turn off the flame and place the cooked eggplants on a paper towel to absorb the extra oil.
Turn the flame back on under the celery and the onions and slowly add the green pitted olives, the capers, the pine nuts, the raisins; let it cook together for 10/15 minutes adding some water if needed. Then, add the eggplants and the tomatoes. Add the salt and let it cook. Add the basil. Sprinkle the sugar on top and add the apple cider vinegar. Cook until the tangy flavor of the vinegar is gone: about 5 minutes, and the vinegar absorbed. Once all the ingredients look nicely melting into one another, turn the heat off, and let it sit for at least one hour while all the flavor blend harmoniously. Serve at room temperature and ENJOY!