I’m talking again about another of Montalbano dishes. For one because there are new episodes on National TV; and then because of the season that is bringing good eggplants (and other vegetables) to enjoy.
The Sicilian Caponata is one of the side dishes with a capital S (and D), which is often misinterpreted with the addition of ingredients that are not present in the original recipe or removing ingredients that are necessary for the addition of a caponata of respect. [Something that I do a lot! 🙂 ]
Simple but appetizing, the [real] Sicilian caponata is the ideal summer and late summer side dish. Everyone likes it and if desired it can also be used as a condiment for pasta.
There are as many as 36 different varieties of caponata in the Mediterranean area alone, all linked by one thing: the main ingredients are vegetables of different types, all cut more or less the same size.
Whether or not the Sicilians will aprove, I often add the zucchini to it, and yes…., I even remove ingredients according to my pantry and the desires of the moment. I love bell peppers in all the three colors! … so I do add them…
A similar dish is the French Ratatouille, and even there we can find another version made famous by the Pixar movie with the same name. It is a bit complicated and labor intensive, but it is worth the effort, after all it did please even the “very-hard-to-please M. Appetite! 🙂
Origins of the Sicilian Caponata
In Sicily the origin of the caponata goes back to the word capone, or a white fish that in the past was consumed only by those who had money or possessions; the people, instead, replaced the fish with the aubergines and over time the use of the fish completely disappeared, giving way to the version with only vegetables.
Today in Sicily different variations of caponata are prepared with the addition of other ingredients according to the region: for example in Catania red and yellow peppers are also used.
Making Eggplant Caponata
To prepare the Sicilian caponata, start by cleaning the aubergines then slice them, cut them into cubes and place them in a colander. Sprinkle with coarse salt, cover with a weight and let stand for at least 30 minutes.
After this time, rinse the vegetables, squeeze them well and dry them with kitchen paper.
Continue in the preparation by chopping the celery and browning it in a pan with a little oil and the sliced onion. Separately, fry the aubergine cubes in a frying pan with oil until they are golden brown. Lift with a skimmer and set aside.
Add the olives, capers and pine nuts to the chopped celery and onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes.
Continue cooking for another 10 minutes, then add the previously cooked aubergines, sugar and vinegar. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes.
You just have to adjust salt and pepper and garnish with fragrant basil.
Buon apetito! [Enjoy your meal]