- 1 large or 2 medium eggplant, peeled, alternating with 1-inch strips of skin left on, cut into 1-inch dice
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch dice – in Italy we used only the fronds (the green parts that grow out of the tops of the fennel. I will show a bulb recipe below)
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch dice (including leaves)
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (technically, he used garlic infused oil – he said they never directly cook garlic in Sicily)
- Bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 small or 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1/2 bunch mint (5-10 leaves)
Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish that is healthy and hearty.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In a colander salt the eggplant and let set for 30 minutes or so. This will remove any bitterness. Wash off the salt and then in a large bowl, toss the eggplant generously with olive oil and salt, to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and roast until the eggplant is soft and mushy, about 15 to 20 minutes. Reserve. (in Italy we fried the eggplant in olive oil, but when we make it at home we bake it)
Coat a wide deep pot with olive oil. Toss in the onion and crushed red pepper and season with salt, to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the fennel, celery and garlic and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the peppers and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the zucchini, season with salt, to taste, and cook until the zucchini and all the veggies are soft and aromatic and starting to come together as a stew, about 5 to 6 minutes. Toss in the eggplant, 1/2 cup of water and the tomato paste. Cook until the water has evaporated. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar in a small bowl and add it to the mixture. Stir in the raisins, capers and mint. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes.
Let cool and transfer the Caponata to a serving bowl. Serve immediately or even better tomorrow or the next day.