Eggplant Caponata

Authentic Sicilian caponata bears no resemblance to any commercial product. The secret is to prepare the vegetables separately so that they retain their own individual taste

Ingredients for 4 people:
3 large eggplants
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1 head celery, tough outer stalks removed, finely sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1/3 cup tomato paste, diluted with 2 tablespoons water
1 – 2 tablespoons capers
1 anchovy, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup fine quality red wine vinegar
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup sultana raisins
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method: Without peeling the eggplants, cube into 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle with salt and let drain in a colander. Place a weight on top for one to three hours; the longer, the sweeter. Dry well and set aside. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Fry the eggplant until brown. Drain on paper towels. Save the oil. Boil celery in a saucepan of water for 3 minutes. Saute the onion in the oil remaining from the eggplant just until it begins to change color. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir and combine together the capers, anchovy, sugar, vinegar and olives. Add the eggplant, celery and raisins, stirring together. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes. Let cool before serving. The Chef recommends garnishing with toasted bread and chopped almonds.

Best with a Merlot or Sangiovese/Merlot.