Italian Foods 

Sweet and sour eggplant relish (caponata)

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Sweet and sour eggplant relish (caponata)

Sweet and sour eggplant relish (caponata)

Tangy-sweet caponata is best made a day ahead so its flavors have time to mingle. Serve at room temperature with pita chips or other crisps as a snack or hors d’oeuvre. It keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.
Ingredients

– Yields about 4 cups.
– 1 medium eggplant (about 11/2 lb.) unpeeled, top and bottom trimmed.
– Kosher salt.
– 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed.
– 3 large inner ribs celery, sliced crosswise.
– 1/2 inch thick.
– 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice.
– 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice.
– 1 small yellow onion, chopped.
– 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes (with their juices).
– 2 Tbs. red-wine vinegar.
– 4 tsp. granulated sugar.
– 2 anchovy fillets, minced (optional).
– 1/4 cup green olives, pitted and slivered.
– 3 Tbs. drained and rinsed capers (coarsely chopped if large).

Instructions

Step 1: Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, sprinkle with 1 Tbs. salt, and let sit for 1 hour. Pat dry with more paper towels; there’s no need to rinse. Heat the oil in a small Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, fry the eggplant, stirring occasionally, until deep golden brown on several sides, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Adjust the heat as needed to keep the oil hot but not smoking. Transfer each batch with a slotted spoon to dry paper towels to drain.
Step 2: Reduce the heat to medium, and if the pan is dry, add 1 Tbs. oil. Add the celery, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened with just a hint of crunch, about 5 minutes. Transfer the celery to a bowl. If the pan is dry, add 1 Tbs. oil. Add the peppers, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the celery.
Step 3: If the pan is dry, add another 1 Tbs. oil. Add the onion, sprinkle with salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and pour in the tomatoes and their juices. Add the vinegar, sugar, and anchovies, if using. Bring to a vigorous simmer and cook until the juices have thickened slightly to the consistency of tomato soup, 3 to 5 minutes. Add all the cooked vegetables and the olives and capers. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for another 5 minutes. Let cool completely and then cover and refrigerate overnight. Before serving, bring to room temperature and add salt to taste.

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