Caponata, a Sicilian dish of eggplants, sometimes fish, and other vegetables, is already pretty worldly; thanks to their geographical location along an important ancient trade route, many Sicilian dishes display similar influences from Greece, Spain, and the Middle East. My particular version is a slight departure from what I originally learned, but it certainly doesn’t depart from the basic flavor profile. I also roast the vegetables instead of frying in heavy oil, but you can do whatever you want. I like to serve this at room temperature (not hot!) with crusty bread and chilled white wine, preferably bubbly.
Serves 6-8 as a snack for your Prosecco
1 ½ pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 small yellow onion, chopped
½ pound tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 pound red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffonaded
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chiffonaded
½ cup roughly chopped mixed olives
½ cup thinly sliced celery ribs
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds
Toasted bread for serving
Place chopped eggplant in a colander in the sink along with about 2 teaspoons salt. Toss gently to cover eggplant and let stand 30 minutes. Then, rinse eggplant under cold water and squeeze dry in handfuls.
On parchment-lined baking sheets, spread the onion, celery, red bell pepper, basil, and mint. Top that with scattered chopped tomato and a pinch of salt. Top tomatoes with the chopped eggplant and drizzle with olive oil. Roast in an oven at 375°F for 20 minutes, or until eggplant is thoroughly cooked.
Meanwhile, in a small microwaveable bowl, combine the vinegar, raisins, and sugar. Heat 1 minute on high and whisk until sugar is completely dissolved. When vegetables are done, place in a large serving bowl and pour vinegar dressing on top; stir to coat. Add the olives, capers, pomegranate seeds, and almonds and give it another stir. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. This will also keep in the refrigerator up to one week; bring back up to room temperature before serving.