Caponatina (A sweet and sour eggplant appetizer spread)

Source: The Olive Oil Source
November 01, 2005

Also called Caponata, this spread from Sicily can be served bruschetta style on toasted baguette slices or as a sauce for grilled chicken breasts. It can be thinned with broth and served over pasta.

4 medium eggplants, peeled and diced
4 onions, sliced
1 1/2 cups The Olive Oil Source medium-flavor extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup canned tomato sauce
4 stalks celery, diced

12 green olives, pitted and diced
2 tablespoons capers
12 large black olives, pitted and diced
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
1/2 cup wine vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and Pepper

Trim and peel the eggplants, cut them into 1-inch cubes, and transfer them to a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let them stand for 30 minutes. Rinse, drain well, and pat dry. This removes some of the bitterness and prevents the eggplant from soaking up too much oil.

Divide the eggplant into 4 batches. In a large skillet set over moderately high heat, heat 1/4 cup of the oil until hot. Add one batch of the eggplant and fry it, stirring occasionally, until just tender and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the fried eggplant to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining 3 batches of eggplant, adding 1/4 cup oil with each batch.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and the sliced onions, and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add capers, olives, and pine nuts, and the fried eggplant.

In a small saucepan, heat the wine vinegar  and sugar over moderate heat until dissolved. Add this to eggplant mixture.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Allow to simmer until flavors mix, about 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.

The caponatina can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.