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Caponata (Italian Eggplant Relish) ~ Serves 10
Ready in 1-2 hrs

A Sicilian specialty!
Eggplant is fried and then stewed along with tomatoes, onions, olives, anchovies, and capers.
It is served as a salad, typically at room temperature, but can also be served hot or cold.

2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cups celery, sliced
2 cups chopped ripe plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
3 chopped anchovy filets (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the pine nuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven to toast for 3-4 minutes. Watch closely as they can burn quickly. Remove from oven and set aside.
Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand at least 1/2 hour. Rinse well under cold water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the oil in a deep heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook until tender, stirring as needed, until light golden brown. Remove the eggplant and set aside.
Add the garlic and onions to the pan and cook until soft. Add the peppers, celery, tomatoes, and browned eggplant and let cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, uncovered.
Mix the sugar and red wine vinegar together (the sugar may not fully dissolve). Add it to the vegetable mixture and let simmer for 15-20 minutes until thick. Stir in the capers, olives, and anchovies and let cook 3-5 more minutes.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then stir in the basil, parsley, and toasted pine nuts.
Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature.


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