by: Maria Bella

Caponata is a Sicilian dish of eggplant and other vegetables, cut into cubes and deep—fried, then mixed with golden raisins and pine nuts, and marinated in an agrodolce (sweet—and-sour) sauce. In some parts of Sicilia, it is traditional to mix in little pieces of dark bitter chocolate. Because it is such a southern dish, I had never even tasted it until I started cooking at Olive. Then, one day when we were looking for something sweet-and-sour as an accompaniment, I found the recipe in a book and I remember thinking: "This will never work!" But we made it, the explosion of flavor was incredible, and it has become one of my favorite things. You can pile caponata on chunks of bread, or serve it with mozzarella or fried artichokes. Because it is vinegary, it is fantastic with roast meat, as it cuts through the fattiness, particularly of lamb. Traditionally it is also served with seafood — perhaps grilled or fried scallops, prawns or red mullet. With red mullet, I like to add a little more tomato to the caponata. We often cut some fresh tuna into 1 1/2-inch dice and either saute it in olive oil or grill it until it is golden on the outside but still rare inside (to test whether it is ready, cut open a piece and it should be a nice rose color in the center). Then we add the tuna to the caponata just before serving and toss everything together well cliquez pour plus d'infos. If yen don't like fennel or celery, leave them out and increase all the other ingredients slightly. Keep in mind that this is net a fixed recipe; it is something that is done according to taste and you can change it as you like.


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serves: 4

1 large eggplant

olive oil for frying

1 onion (cut into 3/4-inch dice)

vegetable oil for deep-frying

2 stalks celery (cut into 3/4-inch dice)

1/2 fennel bulb (cut into 3/4-inch dice)

1 zucchini (cut into 3/4-inch dice)

3 fresh plum tomatoes (cut into 3/4-inch dice)

bunch of basil

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon golden raisins

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon pine nuts

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon tomato passata

1 tablespoon superfine sugar

salt and pepper

Nutrition Facts

Servings Per Recipe: 4

Amount per Serving

Calories: 456

  • Total Fat: 35.5 g
  •     Saturated Fat: 4.4 g
  •     Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 117.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 34.3 g
  •     Dietary Fiber: 9.5 g
  •     Sugars: 16.7 g
  • Protein: 6.3 g

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1.  Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch cubes, sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in a colander for at least 2 hours. Squeeze lightly to get rid of excess liquid.

2.  Heat a little olive oil in a pan and gently saute the onion until soft but not colored. Transfer to a large bowl.

3.  Put the vegetable oil in a deep—fat fryer or a large, deep saucepan (no more than one—third full) and heat to 350°F. Add the celery and deep—fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until tender and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

4.  Wait until the oil comes back up to the right temperature, then put in the fennel. Cook and drain in the same way, then repeat with the eggplant and zucchini.

5.  Add all the deep—fried vegetables to the bowl containing the onion, together with the diced tomatoes.

6.  Tear the basil leaves and add them to the bowl with all the rest of the ingredients, seasoning well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap while the vegetables are still warm and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours before serving at room temperature. Don't put it in the fridge or you will dull the flavors. lt is this process of ''steaming'' inside the plastic wrap and cooling down very slowly that changes caponata from a kind of fried vegetable salad, with lots of different tastes, to something with a more unified, distinctive flavor.

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