Sicilian Style Summer Caponata

A little while ago I promised that I would share the Sicilian style summer caponata recipe.  For those that have been waiting patiently this recipe is for you.  As well as for those that enjoy eating Sicilian dishes.  Let us begin preparing this wonderful dish.

All these ingredients are readily available at the moment and the weather is perfect to prepare this dish.  A caponata can be an accompaniment to a fish or meat dish.  It can simply be enjoyed with some crusty bread just as is.  A great dish with it’s humble origins from Sicily.

Ingredients
1 large aubergine/eggplant (cut into 2 cm dice)
1 large onion  (cut into 2 cm dice)
2 zucchini (2 cm dice)
1 fennel bulb (2 cm dice)
4 medium tomatoes (seeds removed & cut into 2 cm dice)
100 g black olives in brine
2 tbsp tomato passata
1 tbsp caster sugar
5 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp fresh basil leaves
50 g pine nuts (lightly toasted)
60 g sultanas
olive oil for frying
80 ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation Time:       20 minutes + 30 minutes for aubergine to be sprinkled with salt, washed, drained and pat dry. (Approximately)
Cooking Time:      40 minutes (Approximately)
Serves:       6-10 People (As a side dish or starter)

  1. In a small pan over medium heat add the pine nuts and brown them lightly.  Ensure that they don’t burn.  Remove from the heat and place aside to cool.
  2. Dice the aubergine into 2 cm pieces and sprinkle with salt and leave to drain in colander for at least 30 minutes.  Squeeze lightly to get rid of  excess liquid.  Add oil to a pan over medium heat and gradually cook the aubergine pieces until lightly browned and soft.  Put in a bowl and place aside.  Continue cooking until all the aubergine has been cooked.
  3. Add oil to the pan and lightly brown the zucchini pieces until all cooked.  Place aside in a bowl.
  4. Drain the olives, pat dry.  Crush them lightly and remove the stones.
  5. Heat a little olive oil in a pan.  Add the onion, cook for a few minutes then add the fennel, olives, passata and continue to cook until soft but not coloured.  Mix the sugar and vinegar together in a bowl and add to the pan.  Bring to the boil, simmer gently until the slightly thick.  Remove from the heat and transfer the contents of the pan into a large bowl.
  6. Dice the tomatoes into 2 cm pieces removing the seeds.
  7. Add the aubergine, zucchini, tomatoes, sultanas, pine nuts into the large bowl with the onion, fennel and olives.  Add the extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Gently mix all the ingredients together, cover the bowl with a tea towel  or cling wrap.  Whilst the vegetables are still warm allow to stand for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature for all the flavours to infuse.
  8. When you are ready to serve add and mix through the chopped or torn basil leaves.

Cook’s Tips

  • You may need to have 2 pans going at one time to speed up the cooking process.
  • After frying each vegetable clean the pan before cooking the next one.
  • I shallow fry all my vegetables rather than deep fry them.
  • You may need a little more olive oil than usual as the aubergine/eggplant soaks up oil during cooking.
  • Add fresh basil leaves just before serving.

Enjoy!

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