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Sicilian Eggplant Relish (Caponata)

This recipe is one of Sicily’s most famous dishes. You cook eggplant with other vegetables (in this case, onions, celery, and an assortment of peppers) in a sweet-and-sour tomato sauce that’s flavored with vinegar and sugar.

This version is lighter and easier than the traditional recipe, in which you fry the eggplant separately and then add it to the cooked vegetables. You can also mix this sauce into risotto or serve it with pasta.

You can serve this dish with bread or crackers for dipping, or your guests may eat it with a fork.

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/MarynaVoronova]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/MarynaVoronova

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 medium red onions, diced

6 celery stalks, diced

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced

1⁄4 cup sugar

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes

2 large tomatoes, diced

1-1⁄2 cups water

1 cup pitted black olives

2 tablespoons chopped capers, drained

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, or 2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, or 2 teaspoons dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and peppers and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

  2. Sprinkle the sugar over the vegetables and stir in the vinegar. Cook for 5 minutes, until the vinegar has been almost completely absorbed.

  3. Add the eggplant and cook, covered, for another 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and water and simmer, uncovered, for another 20 minutes.

  4. Stir in the olives and capers. Simmer for 10 minutes and then add the basil and parsley. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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