Caponata is an Italian classic with a sweet and sour balance of flavours. It makes a delicious summer side dish to grilled meats and tastes better made a day ahead, making leftovers perfect for packing into lunch boxes or picnic baskets. Caponata is a great choice for summer parties and barbecues. Bursting with Sicilian flavours, this caponanta will keep everyone coming back for more.
- 2 large aubergines, about 900g, cut into 2cm dice
- sunflower oil, for frying
- 3tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red onion, sliced
- 2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm dice
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 150g ripe tomatoes, diced
- 40g capers
- 40g green olives, stoned and quartered
- 40g sultanas
- 1tbsp sugar
- 50ml passata
- 100ml red wine vinegar
- 40g pine nuts, toasted, and a small bunch of mint or basil, leaves picked, to serve
Lightly salt the diced aubergine and leave for 30 mins in a colander over a sink, then pat dry. Heat a wide, deep pan one third full of sunflower oil until it reaches 190C, or a cube of bread dropped in turns golden immediately. Fry the aubergine cubes in batches until golden. Allow the oil to reach that temperature again between each batch. Drain the aubergine on kitchen paper.
Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pan over a medium-low heat; cook the onion, celery and peppers with a pinch of salt until soft and beginning to colour. Cook for another min, then add the diced tomatoes and cook for another couple of mins.
Stir in the capers, olives, sultanas, sugar, passata and vinegar, bring to the boil, then add the fried aubergine. Season to taste, turn the heat right down and simmer gently for 30 mins. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. It tastes better made the day before serving and will keep for 5 days in the fridge, but allow it to come to room temperature before serving with the pine nuts and mint scattered over.