Winter is here and after a hiatus in blogging, peppered with a trip around Europe and a new job, it feels right to pick this up again.
There are some dishes that keeps on giving after it is cooked, and this generous dish by Yotam Ottolenghi is definitely one of those. Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant vegetable salad with celery, capers and a sweet and sour vinegar sauce. Traditionally served as a side dish it is also one that can be served as an entree on rustic bread with pecorino or as a main dish tossed with pasta.
80ml olive oil
80ml sunflower oil
1 large aubergine (350g), cut into 2.5cm dice
120g celery, tender part only, cut on an angle into 2cm-wide slices
1 red pepper, cut into 1.5cm dice
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
½ tsp harissa paste
150g tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
30g green olives, pitted and halved
1½ tsp caster sugar
Salt and black pepper
30g raisins (optional, but highly recommended)
2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp chopped parsley
Heat both oils in a large, heavy-based sauté pan for which you have a lid. Lay in the aubergine and fry for five to seven minutes, until golden-brown, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the aubergine to a colander and sprinkle with a bit of salt. After a few minutes, transfer to soak on a paper towel. (Note: I would actually change the order so you add the aubergine after frying the peppers, I find that the aubergine soaked a lot of the oil when fried first).
Add the celery to the hot oil, fry for three minutes, add the pepper and cook for two minutes. Transfer to the colander, then to a paper towel.
Sauté the onion and harissa in the oil (add a little more to the pan, if need be) for seven minutes, until soft and golden. Drain off any excess oil from the pan, add the tomatoes and vinegar, stir and bring to a simmer. Add the fried vegetables, capers, olives and sugar, and season. If the mix is too dry, add a few tablespoons of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the raisins (if using), taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave to come to room temperature, add the lemon juice and parsley, and taste for seasoning again.