Eggplant caponata is an easy and delicious way to cook up lots of vegetables from the garden or farm. Summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, celery, and, of course, eggplant, are cooked down to a pulp and mixed with tangy olives, capers and vinegar to create a classic Sicilian sweet and sour vegetarian antipasto or side dish. Served as a pressed sandwich on Tuscan bread with fontina cheese, a caponata Panini is the perfect light summer meal.
2 nice large purple eggplants, cut into large chunks
1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped
2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked,and drained
a handful of green olives, pits removed
2—3 tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar
5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1. Get yourself a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your eggplant chunks and oregano, season with a little salt, and toss around so the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the eggplant in batches.)
2. When the eggplants are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic, and parsley stems and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it’s getting too dry.
3. Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender.
4. Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the almonds if you like.
Excerpted from JAMIE’S ITALY by Jamie Oliver. Copyright 2006 Jamie Oliver. All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold.