Monthly Raisin Recipes by Sam Linsell
Caponata is a well-known Sicilian dish that is sour, sweet, and salty. The eggplants are normally chopped up as part of the dish, but with this version I’ve made it less of a relish and more of a substantial side. I crumbled feta over the top which adds to the savoury flavour and of course makes if more delicious. Golden sultanas add a lovely, sweet element, and toasted pine nuts and torn basil leaves finish things off. This is a wonderful dish that can be made in advance and best served at room temperature.
Recipe – serves 4 – 6 as a side
1kg – 1.2kg eggplant / aubergine (about 3 – 4 depending on size)
extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
1 large brown or red onion, finely chopped
1 big red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
3 Tbsp tomato paste
125ml (1/2 cup) water
1 400gm tin chopped tomatoes
½ cup golden sultanas
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar +2 Tbsp
3 Tbsp capers, drained
½ -3/4 cup green olives (pitted or left whole)
½ tsp – 1 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
A small handful basil, roughly chopped (about 7gms)
3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Preheat the oven to 200C /400F and brush a large baking sheet with olive oil.
Cut the eggplants in half or quarters depending on the size (or a mix of both) and brush all sides with olive oil. Season them well with salt & pepper and spread them out cut side down on the baking tray. Roast for about 30 – 40 minutes until golden in colour and are cooked through. Turn over once or twice halfway through.
While the eggplants are roasting, heat a glug of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the onions, pepper, and celery until soft. About 5 minutes. Add a splash of water if they start to stick. Add the tomato paste and a little more of the water and cook for a minute or two until the water has cooked off. Add the tin of tomatoes, sultanas and sugar and cook for about 5 minutes. Add whatever water is left.
Add the vinegar, capers, olives, and chilli and cook for about 5 minutes seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Allow this to cool to room temperature.
When the eggplants are roasted remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place on a serving platter and spoon over the caponata. Crumble the feta over if you are using and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts and basil leaves.
Serve with crusty bread and a salad or with any meat or fish dish. This is perfect for a BBQ / braai.