Caponata (Sicilian saucy aubergine salad)
From the Spanish "caponada", the word "caponata" derives from "capone", the name given in some parts of Sicily to the lampuga, a fish prized by the aristocracy that was seasoned with sweet and sour sauce. The people, unable to afford the expensive fish, replaced it with the cheaper aubergines and kept the tasty sauce.
Recipe for 4 people
1. Cut the aubergines into cubes, sprinkle them with coarse salt and leave them to rest in a colander for at least 1 hour to remove the bitterness.
2. Cut the celery into cubes, place them in a pot of boiling water with a little salt and leave to soften for 5 minutes. Drain and place on a cotton cloth;
3. Chop up the onions and fry them in a little oil. Then add the capers, olives and pine nuts and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat;
4. Dice the tomatoes and cook them in the pan with the onion for at least 20 minutes until well blended;
5. Fry the celery in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil;
6. Drain the aubergines, dry them and fry them in 300 grams of seed oil. Once fried, drain them and add them to the mixture with the onions. Add the celery and stir over medium heat for 3–4 minutes. Finally, add the vinegar and sugar and let it evaporate. Turn off the heat and serve the caponata with basil.
Palermo caponata is the simplest and most classic version.
There are also versions from Agrigento, Catania, Messina and Trapani.
In the Agrigento version, roasted peppers, honey, garlic, chilli pepper, basil, pine nuts or almonds and dried sultanas are added.
The one from Catania includes yellow and red peppers. In some local variations, garlic and potatoes can be found.
The recipe from Messina differs from that of Palermo in the presence of peeled tomatoes instead of sauce.
In the version from Trapani, peppers, vinegar and toasted almonds are added.