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Caponata

Adapted from David Leibovitz)

Ingredients:

  • About 1 cup olive oil, for frying (so don’t use the good stuff)

  • 1 pound eggplant, 1 inch dice

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 3 stalks celery, ½ inch slices

  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and very coarsely chopped (about in thirds)

  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and squeezed dry

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Rao’s marinara sauce

  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • ⅓ cup golden raisins

  • ⅓ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley or mint, for serving


Directions:

In a large, heavy-duty skillet, heat ½ cup olive oil. Cook the eggplant in batches, not crowding too many in the pan at once, turning them occasionally, until they are browned all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with salt, then fry the rest of the eggplant in batches, seasoning them with salt as you remove them from the oil. You’ll likely need to add more oil to the pan as you go. 

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring frequently until wilted and starting to turn golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the olives, capers, tomato sauce, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes. Let come to a low boil, and then add the eggplant, raisins, and pine nuts. Cook the mixture at a simmer, stirring carefully so as not to mash up the eggplant pieces, for 3 to 4 minutes. Taste, and add additional salt if desired, and perhaps another splash of vinegar. Remove from heat and transfer the caponata to a large, shallow serving platter or bowl and cool.

Caponata is best served the next day, so the ingredients and flavors have time to meld. Top with chopped flat leaf parsley, and serve with crostini. Caponata will last about a week refrigerated.

Colin Beirne