Caponata! As well as its deliciousness I also love the rhythm to the word Cap-on-ah-ta! I also wonder if this Italian aubergine based stew could also be the name of an Italian dance like the Tarantella – or maybe the dancers just eat a large plate of caponata after dancing? Or maybe I have an overactive imagination – but do listen to some Tarantella music to get you in the mood for cooking and eating caponata!
I think the secret to aubergines is that they need cooking for far longer than you think. They need time to reduce and gain their lovely smokey full flavour, I cooked them for at least 20 minutes, until they had reduced by about 2 thirds and were charred and soft (and my smoke alarm had gone off twice). Aubergines soak up oil like a sponge seemingly regardless of how hot the pan is, I just used a tiny amount of oil and kept them moving whilst frying them. I do salt my aubergines and leave for 20 minutes before cooking them but many people do not think that it is necessary as most of the bitterness has been breed out of modern varieties. Once the aubergines are ready then the rest of the caponata is easy and quick to put together, use whatever colour of peppers you have and add capers, pine nuts and olives to taste. I completely forgot the olives and put an extra amount of capers in.
- 2 medium aubergines - diced and salted for 20 minutes - then rinsed well
- 1 medium onion - medium chopped
- 3 gloves garlic - roughly chopped
- 1 red pepper - sliced
- 1 orange pepper - sliced
- 1 tin tomatos
- 1 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs capers
- 1 tbs toasted pinenuts
- glug olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Fry the aubergine until it has reduced by about 2/3rds. This will take about 20 minutes, as aubergine soaks up oil like a sponge use a good non stick pan and keep it moving, when ready it should look like the photo.
- Meanwhile fry the onion and garlic until soft, add the pepper and cook for a few more minutes, add the tomatos, charred aubergine, white wine vinegar, sugar and capers. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir through the toasted pinenuts just before serving.
- Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices. This also tastes far better reheated the next day.