While cold and stormy weather batters us right now, I thought it would be great to share a recipe that brings with it a taste of warm weather, summer days and Sicily. John and I grabbed a week on this wonderful Italian island last Autumn and discovered a vibrant, welcoming place rich with history, fabulous food and amazing scenery, topped off with the imposing Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest, most active volcano.
Wherever we went on the island you could almost always guarantee that local cafes and restaurants would serve up Caponata. It’s a delicious stew of aubergine and celery that every place seemed to add its own twist to. So here is my version. It’s really easy to make, full of healthy vegetables and provides a really interesting change from its French cousin, ratatouille.
Emma’s Caponata Recipe
1 large onion, diced
2 large aubergine, roughly chopped into bite-size chunks
4 sticks of celery, chopped as above
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 green or red peppers, sliced and diced
2 tomatoes, chopped into bite-size chunks
2 courgettes, chopped (optional)
20ml olive oil
30ml red wine vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
a handful of raisins, capers and pine nuts
small bunch of basil leaves
salt & pepper to taste
Once you’ve heated the olive oil in a heavy-based pan, add the onion and aubergine and allow them to soften for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the chopped and diced fresh vegetables and garlic along with the tin of tomatoes, red wine vinegar and the raisins. Put a lid on the pan and leave the vegetables to cook down for around 20-30 minutes until soft. Check during this time that there is enough liquid in the pan and top up with water if necessary.
While the vegetables are cooking, heat a small frying pan and toss in the pine nuts. Keep a close eye on them, moving them around the pan until they start to brown. As soon as they do, turn the heat off and put to one side.
Before serving, add the capers and the basil to the Caponata, adding the pine nuts and some additional torn basil leaves as the final touch. Delizioso – a taste of sunshine and Sicily.