CAPONATA ON TOAST


A LITTLE HISTORY There are 37 official versions of Caponata, which is essentially a sweet and sour ratatouille and a specialty of Sicily. Sicilian Caponata mirrors all the flavors of all the conquerors who have ever stepped foot on the island. This version, not among the 37 official ones, calls for Greek olives as a nice contrast to the sweet raisins. Eggplant absorbs all the delicious sweet and sour flavors of caponata, and the dish tastes better the next day. It’s meant to be served at room temperature.
RATING
SERVES
6
PREP TIME
15 min
COOK TIME
45 min

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant 1 large or 2 medium, diced
  • 3 Tbsp plus ⅔ cup extra virgin Greek olive oil plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 stalks celery from the inner, tender stalks (the heart), diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes preferably Romas, peeled, seeded and finely chopped, or 1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (in puree)
  • 3 Tbsp Santorini or other capers rinsed and drained
  • 3 Tbsp coarsely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 Tbsps dark seedless raisins or Corinthian currants
  • 2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts optional
  • 2 Tbsp grape molasses or 1 tablespoon Greek honey
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar more to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For serving:

  • 6 to 8 one-inch-thick slices of country bread grilled and brushed with a little olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place the eggplant in a colander and lightly toss with salt. Let it stand until ready to use.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet and add the onion, celery and pepper. Cook, stirring until the onion turns golden, the pepper is soft, and the celery is lightly caramelized for about 15 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook together for a minute until the garlic begins to smell fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes, olives and currants or raisins. Season lightly with salt and gently stir in half the petimezi or honey. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, until the mixture is thick.
  4. Heat half the remaining olive oil and brownin a separate skillet and soften half the eggplant, stirring gently. Transfer it to the caponata mixture and repeat with remaining olive oil and eggplant. Transfer the last batch of browned eggplant to the mixture as well. Drizzle in remaining petimezi or honey, heat the mixture and toss gently to combine. If using toasted pine nuts, gently stir them in and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Warm through for about 5 minutes to give the ingredients and flavors a chance to meld. Remove from heat and let cool. Serve over toasted thick bread slices brushed with olive oil, or chill overnight and serve the next day, at room temperature.

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