|2||pound||eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes |
|1/4||cup||extra virgin olive oil, more, if necessary |
|2||each||garlic cloves, mashed |
|1||md||red onion, peeled cut in half, and sliced |
|2||cup||celery, sliced |
|2||cup||tomatoes, ripe paste eg. Roma, chopped |
|3||each||bay leaves, (or more) (break dried leaves in 2 or 3 pieces; finely chop leaves after, fresh removing petiole & midrib |
|2||tablespoon||red wine vinegar, or more to taste |
|2||tablespoon||capers, small or large ones chopped |
|1/2||cup||pitted kalamata olives, or other brine-cured olives coarsely chopped |
|1 ||pepper, freshly ground |
| || ||---GARNISH--- |
|1/4||cup||basil, fresh sliced thinly at the last minute |
|3||tablespoon||pine nuts, toasted or chopped walnuts |
|1||parsley, chopped fresh |
|Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle them generously|
with salt. Let stand at least 1/2 hour; rinse well under cold water,
drain, and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
Gradually add the eggplant, stirring constantly. Add more oil as
needed to keep the eggplant from sticking.
As soon as all the eggplant is in the pan, gradually add the garlic,
onion and celery. Cook until hot through but not browned, keeping
the heat as high as possible. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves,
vinegar, capers, and olives. Mix well and lower the heat to simmer.
Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender and
the flavor is well developed.
Season the caponata with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar as
needed. Add basil leaves, nuts, and parsley. Serve hot, at room
temperature, or chilled.
Variation: Add chopped anchovies, chunks of fish or shellfish, ham,
italian sausage, or other cooked meat to the vegetables in the last
few minutes of cooking time.