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May 21, 2012 09:51 AM

Looking for caponata recipe

I had the most amazing caponata while I was in Rome. It was the first one I ever had so I cannot actually speak to it authenticity, knowing that this is a traditional Sicilian dish. The amazing part is that my SO hates eggplant, capers and olives, but gobbled this stuff up. I have looked through a lot of recipes and they vary quite a bit. The one I had was definitely on the sweet side, I cannot recall if there were raisins or currants in it.

Has anyone had success with a sweeter, very well stewed, version of the dish?

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      1. Although a translated or American recipe for caponata might call for raisins, you would be better off using currants since Italian (or Sicilian) raisins are more similar to the currants you buy in the US.

        1. This here is the best caponata recipe I've found. Whenever I make it, there are zero leftovers (I usually have to save a little for ourselves before I put it on the table :-)).

          2 lb eggplant (preferably small but not Asian)
          2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (preferably Sicilian)
          2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups olive oil
          11 garlic cloves (from 2 heads), chopped
          2 tablespoons tomato paste (preferably from a tube)
          1 (28-oz) can whole Italian tomatoes, finely chopped and juice reserved
          5 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
          1 large onion, chopped
          1/4 cup drained bottled capers, rinsed
          ¼ cup raisins
          1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
          1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
          1/4 cup sugar
          1/2 teaspoon black pepper

          Cut eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes and transfer to a colander. Toss with 2 tablespoons sea salt. Let drain 1 hour.
          While eggplant drains, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté three fourths of garlic, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomatoes with their juice, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes.
          Bring 3 cups salted water to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart saucepan, then cook celery until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking.
          Gently squeeze eggplant to remove excess moisture and pat dry. Heat 1/4 inch oil (about 2 cups) in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until it registers 360°F on thermometer, then fry eggplant in 4 batches, stirring and turning constantly with a slotted spoon, until browned and tender, 3 to 5 minutes per batch. (Return oil to 360°F between batches.) Transfer to paper towels.
          Pour off all but 2 tablespoons oil from skillet, then reduce heat to moderate and cook onion and remaining garlic, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes. Add tomato sauce, eggplant, celery, capers, vinegar, sugar, pepper, and remaining teaspoon sea salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature, uncovered, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.
          Cooks' notes:
• If your sea salt is very granular and pebblelike, crush it using the flat side of a large heavy knife or the bottom of a heavy skillet.
• To take the temperature of a shallow amount of oil, put bulb in skillet and turn thermometer facedown, resting other end against rim of skillet. Check temperature frequently.
• Caponata can be chilled up to 1 week. 

Makes about 1 quart, or 10 servings (as part of antipasti).

May 2005

          2 Replies
          1. re: linguafood

            That sounds fabulous, lingua! Did you ever try microwaving the eggplant to cut down on the amount of oil? I'm sure that's part of what makes it delicious, though...

            1. re: roxlet

              It sure does, rox. I believe the last time I made it I roasted the eggplant in the oven. I can't say that it made it taste any less velvety and rich, so deep-frying isn't absolutely necessary.

          2. Here is my absolute favorite recipe for caponata. I don't bother to salt the eggplant, and I do precook slices in the microwave, then follow the recipe using less oil. I also use a bit less sugar, but that's a personal taste. Don't let the use of cocoa fool you - it's absolutely necessary for that "earthy" flavor. Enjoy!

            1 Reply
            1. re: critter101

              That is a super-smart way to cut up eggplant in the video.