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Caponata Siciliana

Caponata is a delicious complex vegetable dish from Sicily.  Sicily, an island off the coast of Italy is famous for its abundance of fresh and bountiful produce.

This dish is often used as a relish to accompany grilled meats or fish or even as a contorno (side-dish).  In addition, you can use it to top crostini or add to your panini. The important note is that the vegetables should be cut into approximately the same size to accommodate even cooking.

Ingredients

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, cored, then seeded, and finally cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 can diced tomatoes with juices (preferably organic) with juices (14 1/2 oz.)

4 tablespoons raisins

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed

1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Fresh basil leaves for garnish

Steps

In a dutch oven or heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the celery and sautee until tender, about 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the eggplant and saute until it begins to soften about 3 minutes.  Next, add the onion and saute until it becomes translucent, about 3 – 4 minutes.  Add red pepper and saute until it is tender and crisp, about 4 – 5 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes with juices, rasins, and dried oregano.

Simmer the mixture over medium-low heat until the flavors come together and the dish thickens.  Stir often, this should take about 20 minutes.  Next, stir in the vinegar, sugar, capers, and 1/2 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper.

Taste and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Put the caponata into a bowl and finish with a garnish of fresh basil leaves.

Your family and guests will thank you.

Enjoy.

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