Caponata

One of Sicily's signature dishes, caponata's combination of sweet and sour flavors is typical of the island's distinctive cuisine. Great served with fresh crusty bread as an antipasto, it also makes an excellent side dish. As a bonus, it keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Serves 4 as a side dish Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

1/3 cup olive oil 3 eggplants, cut into 1in

(2cm) cubes 2 onions, sliced 1/2 cup finely chopped celery root or celery, 1/2 cup green olives in brine, pitted 1/4 cup capers in brine, drained, rinsed, and gently squeezed dry 1 x 141/2oz (400g) can chopped plum tomatoes, drained, or 5-6 ripe plum tomatoes, about 11/»lb (550g), peeled 1/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup cider vinegar or white wine vinegar Yi tsp unsweetened cocoa powder or dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), finely grated sea salt and freshly ground black pepper freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

1 Heat 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy frying pan over high heat. Add the eggplants and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cubes begin to turn golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, and let drain on paper towels.

2 In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and cook the onions for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

3 Meanwhile, blanch the celery root in a small pan of rapidly boiling water for 1 minute. When the celery root or celery is nearly cooked, turn into a colander, and refresh with cold water. Drain again.

4 Add the celery root to the sauteed onions along with the olives and capers, then add the tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes, if using), sugar, vinegar, and cocoa. Cook for 8-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. Remove from the heat, add the reserved eggplants, and season with salt and pepper. Be careful with the amount of salt you add, as the olives and capers are already salty. Let cool to room temperature.

5 Transfer to a serving dish, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Note If you have made the caponata ahead and stored it in a covered container in the refrigerator, return it to room temperature before serving.

Works well with

Plum (pp64-73)

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