Caponata has as many versions as there are towns in Sicily, no doubt!
Everyone has their way of cooking this traditional peasant dish.
The English cook Jamie Oliver calls it Incredible Sicilian Aubergine Stew.
It’s a good description; this is adapted from his version.
(There are echoes of the French ratatouille, of course.)
This recipe is in my cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics, which is published in August in the UK, November in the USA.
2 large aubergines (aka eggplant)–cut in chunks, salted and left to drain–overnight if you can, but an hour or two anyway (They soak up less oil this way, when cooked.) Dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper.
1 tsp dried oregano
1 small red onion–chopped fine
2 garlic cloves–sliced fine
1 small bunch parsley– stalks chopped separately very finely–(chop the leaves finely too to scatter over the finished dish)
2 tablespoons of capers–drained and squeezed free of liquid
A handful of green olives–stoned, if you’ve time
2/3 tablespoons herb vinegar (I use tarragon vinegar)–not more or it dominates
5 ripe tomatoes (tinned, if it’s not the season)–roughly chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan.
Add the aubergine chunks and oregano (do this in two lots if your pan isn’t big enough)
Cook on a highish heat to brown the chunks, turning them as they colour.
(This is the longest part of the cooking.)
When the aubergines are nicely coloured, add the onion, garlic and the parsley stalks.
Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add more olive oil if you feel it needs it.
Add the olives, capers, and herb vinegar.
When vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes.
Bring up to a simmer and cook on a gentle heat for 15 to 20 mins, covered for the first 10 minutes, until the aubergines are really melting.
Season with pepper and salt–bearing in mind that you salted the aubergines earlier.
Sprinkle over the parsley.
Serve with extra olive oil on hand.
Tonight we have a vegetarian among the six, so I am serving this as a vegetable with our slow roast shoulder of lamb and as the main dish for the vegetarian.