Last week some friends and I got together for another cooking class. This time we learned three classic Italian dishes, and I’ll be sharing step-by-step instructions and recipes over the next few days. The first recipe is for caponata, also called “eggplant relish,” which is a very traditional Sicilian dish. The combination of eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, celery, nuts, and vinegar make a tangy, flavorful side dish that my American friends rave about.
Here’s the how-to guide with the complete recipe at the end of the post!
First, cut your eggplant into 2-inch cubes. Cover with Kosher salt to draw out the bitter taste and let stand while you prepare and fry the peppers.
Cut your peppers in half, remove the seeds and stalk, and then cut them in half again. Chop the quartered pepper into bite-size pieces. Fry the pieces in vegetable oil in batches, removing them when a fork will slide into them without resistance. Remove from pan and put them on a bowl or plate lined with a paper towel.
Return to your eggplant. Rinse, drain, and dry the eggplant before frying it in small batches until lightly browned. Remove from pan and put them on a plate lined with a paper towel. (You can see more explanation about frying eggplant in this post.)
Now make the sugo, or sauce.
To make the “sugo di caponata,” first fry a chopped onion and celery together for 5 minutes. Then add a 1/2 can of green olives.
Add 1 cup of tomato sauce OR fresh tomatoes and a spoon of tomato paste. Sautee together with a teaspoon of salt.
After the mixture begins to boil, add in peppers, eggplant, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Cook until dissolved and continue to stir for two more minutes.
Finally, add capers, raisins, or pine nuts if desired. Top with fresh basil. Buon appetito!
- Vegetable oil
- 2 medium-sized eggplants
- 2 large red peppers
- 2 small onions, diced
- 3 large stalks of celery chopped into large 1-inch pieces
- ½ jar green olives without pimentos
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1/3 C apple cider vinegar
- 1 C of salsa di pomodoro, passata OR fresh tomatoes with 1 spoon of tomato paste
- Optional additions: capers, raisins, or pine nuts
- Fresh basil leaves
- Chop eggplants in large (2 inch) chunks. Place in colander and sprinkle with salt to sit for 30 min-1 hour.
- Deseed peppers, chop into large (2 inch) chunks. Fry batches in vegetable oil with salt in deep pan until partially done and a fork slides into them easily. Put in a bowl with paper towels to drain.
- Rinse, drain, and dry eggplant before frying in batches in vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt while frying. Fry until light brown and partially done. Put in a bowl with paper towels to drain.
- Sugo for Caponata: Heat up oil in large non-stick pan. Add diced onion and chopped celery and cook until fried (5 minutes). (Add more oil if it is dry.) Add ½ jar whole green olives without pimentos to mix. Continue to cook until browned. Add about 1 cup of salsa di pomodoro, passata, or fresh tomatoes and a spoon of tomato paste. Sautee together stirring constantly. Add about 1 tsp of salt.
- Add peppers and eggplant. Stir all together over high heat.
- Add two tablespoons of sugar and 1/3 C of apple cider vinegar and mix together until dissolved. Add to pan and stir. Cook for two more minutes while stirring. Salt to taste.
- Add optional ingredients and fresh basil if desired.