SWEET-AND-SOUR CAPONATA …. caponata in agrodolce

This vegetable antipasti is from  my bible of authentic Italian cooking, SILVER SPOON.  SILVER SPOON has been Italy’s best-selling cookbook for over fifty years.  CAPONATA  would make delectable appetizer for your Thanksgiving Dinner.    The rich reds, deep purples, vibrant greens, are the very colour of Thanksgiving.

SWEET AND SOUR CAPONATA   … SERVES 4

1 1/2 pounds of eggplants, diced  ( I used Japanese eggplants.  If you use the regular eggplants buy the smallest you can find.  They are the most tender.)

kosher salt

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ( or sl)

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 28 ounce can of Italian peeled whole tomatoes or a pound of ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 1/2 tsp sugar

Scant 1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1 tbsp pine nuts (your choice, I left them out because of nut allergies)

Scant 1 cup pitted green olives cut in half

3 generous tbsp capers rinsed

1 generous tbsp golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes and drained

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Fresh basil leaves to garnish.   (you may also finely chop the leaves and mix in)

Put the eggplants in a colander,sprinkle with plenty of salt and let stand for 30 minutes or so.  Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.

While you’re waiting for the eggplants put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a large pan.  Saute the onions and celery (sprinkled with salt) until the onions are translucent.

Add the tomatoes and cook over low heat for a good 15 minutes until thickened and pulpy.  If you are using canned tomatoes break up the whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Season with a little more salt and lots of freshly ground pepper to taste.  Stir in the sugar, vinegar, pine nuts, olives, capers and raisins and bring to a boil over low heat.

Put a generous amount of olive oil into a saute pan, and over medium heat, saute the eggplant until nicely browned.  Saute in batches if necessary

Add the eggplants and simmer for another ten minutes.  Serve the caponata hot, or room temperature, sprinkled with small basil leaves.

Caponata tastes even better the next day or so.  Make lots, double the recipe, you won’t  be sorry.

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