for 3 cups
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large red onion
1 medium sized eggplant
4 stalks of celery
2 sprigs of basil
1 inch piece of hot yellow chile pepper, seeds removed
1 inch piece of hot red chile pepper, seeds removed
1/2 cup raisins
2 small zucchinis
1 pickled lemon, skin only
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons palm sugar
Caponata or caponatina is a dish typical to Sicily. The taste of the stew made of eggplant, olives, capers and tomato always takes me back to the hot landscapes of this beautiful island. We find here a very typical, southern Italian sweet and sour taste, the agro-dolce so popular in many dishes there. Well, as many Sicilian households, there probably are as may versions of this stew. The classic caponata recipe you can find here (use translator). However, as I did not have the capers and olives on hand this time, I decided to make caponata with a twist. And so my today’s version sports the addition of hot chilli peppers, zucchini and pickled lemons. A very interesting alternative! You will end up with a shiny, sweet and sour dish reminiscent of the best jams or chutneys. Caponata tastes great with some grilled fish, as a sauce to the pasta but most often is served over bruschetta.
Cut the eggplant into pieces of ½ inch by ½ inch, add salt and put aside for the juice to run out (and thus get rid of the bitterness). Drain the eggplant off, you can rinse it and drain the water on paper towels. Dice the onion. Cut the celery crosswise into ¼ inch slices. Cut the zucchini into the cubes of ½ inch size. Warm up the olive oil in a pan, add the onion and saute until golden and then add the eggplant and continue to saute both of them until the eggplant turns lightly brown. Then add the celery with tomatoes cut into thick cubes, basil, raisins and chopped hot chiles. Season the stew with salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes. Then add to the saucepan, the zucchini and preserved lemon. Sprinkle the sugar over the stew and pour over the red wine vinegar. Cook for about 10 minutes for the liquid to evaporate. Serve warm or cold, with green parsley and basil leaves.
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