Simple but appetizing, Sicilian caponata is the ideal summer and late summer side dish due to the presence of eggplant (and in some cases other summer vegetables). Everyone likes it and if desired it can also be used as a pasta sauce.
The Origins Of Caponata
There are as many as 36 different varieties of caponata in the Mediterranean area alone, all of which have one thing in common: the main ingredients are vegetables of different types, all cut to roughly the same size.
In Sicily, the origin of caponata is traced back to the word capone, or a white fish that used to be eaten only by those who had money or possessions; the people, on the other hand, replaced the fish with eggplant, and over time the use of fish completely disappeared, giving way to the version with only vegetables.
Caponata was first mentioned in 1709 when St. Vinci’s Etymologicum Siculum defines it as “acetarium et variis rebus minutium conficis” or “a salad and various small cooked things.”
Today in Sicily different variations of caponata are prepared with the addition of other ingredients depending on the region: for example, in Catania red and yellow peppers are also used, in Palermo it is prepared with eggplant, green olives, celery and tomato, and in Agrigento with the addition of black peppers and olives instead of green.
The following is the original recipe for Palermo Sicilian caponata that includes the use of olives and of course capers since in beautiful Sicily capers are a must that, in this dish really make the most of them.
Some people add very few grams of bitter cocoa for a stronger flavor.
- 1 kg. (35 oz) eggplant
- 1 cup of pitted green olives
- 2 cups of red tomatoes
- 2 cups of celery (stalks only)
- 1/4 cup of desalted capers
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 2 white onions
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of white vinegar
- a pinch of coarse salt
- 1 cup of sunflower seed oil
- extra virgin olive oil to taste
Cut the eggplant into cubes, sprinkle it with coarse salt and let it sit inside a colander for at least 1 hour so that the vegetable water comes out completely and with it the bitterness.
Dice the celery, place it in a pot of boiling water with a little salt and let it soften for 5 minutes.
Drain and transfer to a cotton cloth.
Chop up the onions and let them brown over a low flame in a pan with a little oil.
Once wilted but not burned, add the capers, olives, and pine nuts and cook for 10 minutes over high heat, always stirring to prevent burning (add a little water if necessary).
Dice the tomatoes and cook them in the pan with the onion for at least 20 minutes so that the water recedes and the mixture is well blended.
Sauté the celery in a skillet with a little extra virgin olive oil.
Drain the eggplant, dry it and fry it in seed oil then, once fried, drain it and add it to the mixture with the onions.
Also add the celery, stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes then add the vinegar and sugar.
Let it fade then turn off and serve the caponata with basil if available.
Italian Appetisers Recipes
This is the ORIGINAL SICILIAN CAPONATA RECIPEPosted on June 30, 2022
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