It has been a quiet week for us here in Palermo. A bit rainy too, so we’ve been at home for most of the week enjoying our tiny space.
Since moving here in September, we really haven’t “settled in”. If we aren’t travelling on the weekends, then we’re off somewhere during the week. We’re constantly checking bus and train schedules, so being home for an entire 12 days simply feels nice.
Making Sicilian food at home is a lot easier than I thought. I expected the recipes to be complicated since I had never even heard of half of the dishes we’ve tried, but so far my experience has been the exact opposite. Whenever I ask someone for a recipe, whether it’s for arancini, pasta alla norma, or parmigiana bianca I always just get a list of a couple ingredients and am told to “go and figure it out”. Following a recipe in its exact instructions, is not a Sicilian thing to do.
I wanted to save this recipe for last, but I really can’t wait any longer since it’s my favorite. Caponata (or caponata siciliana) is probably the most Sicilian recipe I could possibly share with you. It’s a sweet and sour vegetable antipasti that combines eggplant, tomatoes, celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, salted capers, onions, and green olives.
If you Google caponata, you’ll find that every recipe is different, and in Sicily it’s a lot like that too. Paul and I have tried the caponata at every new restaurant we’ve gone to and have created this recipe to make, what we consider, the ultimate caponata!
The highlights of this recipe? Big chunks of green olives, diced canned tomatoes over fresh (it helps make a juicier sauce), capers in salt over capers in brine, and red wine vinegar!
Happy Sunday! xx
- 1 large eggplant, cubed
- Sprinkle of fine sea salt
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 (15 oz.) can of diced Italian tomatoes
- 1/2 cup green olives, sliced in half lengthwise
- 3 tbsp capers packed in salt, rinsed
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- Freshly cracked black pepper and fine sea salt, to taste
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Chopped fresh basil
- Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and toss well with a sprinkle of salt. Let the eggplant sit for about an hour. Do not rinse the eggplant. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place the eggplant on a lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until it looks slightly browned and has shrunk in size.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan, sauté the chopped onions in 1/4 cup of olive oil, gently, for about 5 minutes. Add in the celery and 2 tablespoons of water and sauté for another 3 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the olives, capers, vinegar and sugar and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the roasted eggplant, stir, and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Allow dip to sit and marinate for at least one hour (more time is better). You can leave it on the counter or put it in the fridge for later.
- Before serving, add a sprinkle of sea salt, some fresh cracked pepper, and a few glugs of olive oil, if desired.
- Serve at room temperature or warmed with a bit of chopped fresh basil and some crusty bread.
This lasts several days in the fridge and freezes really well!