Sicilian vegetable stew (Caponata Siciliana)

 
Serves 4
  • - 60g sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • - 75g green olives, pitted and halved
  • - 25g pine nuts
  • - 25g capers
  • - 100ml white wine vinegar
  • - 10g sugar
  • - 300g potatoes, diced
  • - 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • - 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • - 1 onoin, cut into thin rings
  • - 825ml extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp
  • - 2 red peppers, skin removed and cut into 5cm long x 5mm thick strips
  • - 1 celery stick, cut into 3mm thick slices
  • - 1 courgette, cut into 3mm thick slices
  • - 25g raisins
  • - 500g aubergine, cut into roughly 2cm dice

How to prepare:

Tip the aubergine into a colander, sprinkle with lots of salt and set aside for a couple of hours so that the salt can extract the bitter dark juices from the aubergines. Soak the raisins in lukewarm water for 15-20 minutes, then drain through a small sieve and set aside. After 2 hours, rinse the aubergines and pat dry. Lay the aubergines, courgette, celery and peppers on kitchen paper.

Put the 825ml extra virgin olive oil into a pan suitable for deep-frying and heat to the required temperature. Add the diced aubergines and fry for about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl lined with kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

Repeat with the courgettes and celery then leave all the vegetables on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil.

Put the 2 tbsp oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes, then add the peppers and continue to cook, stirring, for a few minutes or until the onions are golden.

Add the chopped tomatoes, dried basil and diced potatoes. Stir well, adding 100ml boiled water if needed. Cover with the lid and cook for about 10 minutes over a medium heat. Add the sugar, vinegar, capers, pine nuts, soaked raisins, green olives, sun-dried tomatoes and fried vegetables. Season, adding half a glass of boiling water, if needed. Cover with the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes over a very low heat, gently stirring once or twice. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool. Traditionally, caponata is best served cold, although some people prefer to eat it hot.

If you like, toast a slice of bread per serving on both sides in a hot griddle pan. Pile the vegetable stew on to the bread to make Sicilian-style bruschetta.

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