Chefs' Recipes

Capitano's caponata

A vegan Italian dish with a deep, layered umami base that's rich like a stew.

By Casey Wall
  • 5 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • Print
    Print
"Caponata is one of the more complex dishes in the Sicilian repertoire," says Casey Wall of Melbourne's Capitano. "It's not only a melding of deep flavours, but it's also a nod to the rich cultural history of Sicily. There are many different types of caponata as you travel across the island, but they all are equally moreish. This dish is vegan but has a deep, layered umami base that is rich like a stew."

Ingredients

  • 1 kg eggplant, cut into medium-large dice
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 320 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
  • 125 ml (2 cups) tomato sauce (see basic tomato sauce recipe), or sugo of your choice
  • 35 gm capers
  • 35 gm currants
  • Roasted pine nuts, to serve
  • Basil leaves, to serve

Method

  • 1
    Toss eggplant in 1 tbsp salt and set aside to draw out moisture (15-20 minutes).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, combine the onion, celery and 60ml oil in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until vegetables are softened (5-7 minutes). Deglaze pan with vinegar and sugar, scraping base of pan, then add tomato sauce and simmer until reduced by half (5-6 minutes). Remove from heat.
  • 3
    Heat half the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Pat eggplant dry, add half to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (6-7 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining eggplant and oil. Add to tomato sauce with capers, currants and 80ml water and simmer for flavours to marry (5-10 minutes). Season to taste with salt and drizzle with extra oil. Serve topped with pine nuts and basil.

Notes

Wine suggestion A white such as the 2005 Contini Vernaccia di Oristano from Sardinia.