Caponata

This is a classic sweet-and-sour Sicilian dish served with bread, pasta or as a condiment. It’s really flavourful – I love the sour tang, puckering saltiness and hints of sweetness. It’s also a really quick dish to make, and it makes for great leftovers, as it tastes even better the next day, when the flavours have deepened. I took my inspiration for this from a Yottam Ottolenghi recipe, but I’ve adapted mine to make it much healthier (he deep-fries all his veggies). I ate this with spinach pappardelle, but it’s also delicious on toasted ciabatta.

caponata

Serves 3 as a pasta sauce

1 large aubergine, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
120 g celery, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
1 tsp harissa paste
1 tin of tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
20 g capers
30 g green olives, pitted and halved
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
30 g raisins
1/2 a lemon
4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
a handful of toasted pine nuts

Fry the onion in a glug of olive oil until it softens. Add the aubergine, garlic and harissa paste and fry on a medium heat until the aubergine starts to soften (about 5 minutes). You may need to add a touch more oil, as aubergine soaks oil up really quickly. Then add the celery and red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and red wine vinegar and turn the heat up a bit. When the sauce starts to get a bit thicker, add the sugar, olives and capers and turn the heat up. Cook until the sauce is the right consistency for pasta – thick but not dry. Add the raisins and pine nuts and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool down to room temperature and then squeeze in the lemon juice and add the parsley. Serve at room temperature or warm up slightly. This seems odd, but for some reason this sauce is much tastier when you’ve let it cool down.

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