Caponata, sometimes referred to as “poor man’s caviar” is another Italian dish with a varied history. Most people believe it’s origins are Sicilian, with eggplant chopped and fried and seasoned with ‘sweetened’ vinegar. Other versions include olives, carrots, bell peppers potatoes, pine nuts and raisins. Still others add seafood, dried tuna roe, shrimp and lobsters, but these are exceptions to the general rule. Caponata is a great side dish for fish or chicken and works well as an appetizer. Vegetarians and vegans can enjoy this as a main course!
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced and chopped
- 1/2 c diced celery
- 1 15 oz. can tomatoes with tomato puree
- 1 oz. capers, rinsed
- 1 4 oz. jar pitted green olives, drained and sliced
- 1-1/2 tsp pine nuts
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
Rinse eggplant and dry well on paper towel. Cut eggplant into 1″ cubes. Over medium-high heat, fry eggplant in very hot olive oil in large skillet about 10 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Remove eggplant to a large saucepan. In same skillet, add onions and sauté about 3 minutes, adding more oil if necessary. When onions are golden brown, add tomatoes and celery. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes or until celery is tender. Add capers, olives and pine nuts to eggplant mixture.
Dissolve sugar in vinegar, add salt & pepper. Heat slightly to be sure sugar and salt have completely dissolved. Add to eggplant mixture, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to distribute flavors**
Serve warm or cold with fish or chicken as a side dish, by itself with crackers for an appetizer, or as an entree.
** This is a chunky dish. If you want it smooth, put all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides, until you get the texture you want. The smoother texture is best for using as an appetizer
Serves 2 – 3 as an entree; 4 – 6 as a side dish