"There are as many ways to make caponata as there are cooks in Sicily," says Rogers. "The basis of caponata is the popular eggplant, and the dish evolves according to whichever other vegetables you wish to include. All caponatas have wine vinegar as part of the seasoning and most include capers, olives and pine nuts."
- 1 large round eggplant (about 12cm in diameter) or 2 medium round eggplants
- 2 celery hearts with leaves
- For shallow-frying: olive oil
- 1 large Spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 2 dried red chillies, crushed
- 2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and cored (or 3 drained canned Roma tomatoes), cut into 1cm dice
- 50 gm (3 tbsp) black Ligurian olives, pitted and kept whole
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 2 tbsp salted capers, rinsed, then soaked in 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup (loosely packed) mint, coarsely chopped
- 6 slices sourdough bread
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- 1Cut eggplant into 1.5cm dice, then place in a colander, scatter with sea salt and leave to drain for 30 minutes. Wash off the salt, pat dry and set aside.
- 2Meanwhile, chop celery into 2cm lengths, place in a saucepan, cover with water, add 1 tsp sea salt and bring to the boil. Cook until tender (3 minutes), then drain and set aside.
- 3Heat 3-4 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add eggplant in batches and fry, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, adding extra oil as needed (5 minutes). Remove eggplant with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to drain.
- 4Wipe out pan with paper towels and return to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden (10 minutes). Add garlic and celery and cook until flavours combine (5 minutes). Add chilli, season to taste with freshly ground black pepper, then add tomato and stir until warmed through (1-2 minutes). Add eggplant and cook until flavours combine (5 minutes). Season to taste, stir in olives, pine nuts and capers, including the vinegar they’ve been soaking in. Stir in mint and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
- 5Preheat grill to high heat. Grill bread, turning halfway, until toasted (2-4 minutes). Serve caponata warm or at room temperature on grilled bread.