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Sicilian Caponata

Sicilian Caponata

Frankie Celenza

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This sweet and sour dish made with eggplants, olives, peppers and more is surprisingly hearty for being vegan.

Recipe

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Sicilian Caponata

Ingredients

  • Olive oil

  • 1 eggplant, cut into cubes

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon capers

  • 1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, sliced

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • Pinch of pepper

  • 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

  • Zest of 1/2 lemon

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 can diced tomatoes

  • Sliced baguette, to serve

Instructions

  1. Add olive oil to a sauté pan over medium heat. Once oil starts to shimmer, add eggplant cubes. Cook, while stirring, until eggplant begins to brown. Remove from pan and reserve.

  2. In the same pan, add the onions, red bell peppers and celery. Stir to combine. Cook until the veggies begin to soften, then add the capers, olives, garlic and pepper.

  3. Add red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar and stir to combine. Add lemon zest and tomato paste, and stir to combine.

  4. Sprinkle sugar over top and add canned tomatoes. Return eggplant to pan, and stir altogether. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick and slightly reduced.

  5. Serve warm or cold with sliced baguette.

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Transcript

- This right here is so full of flavor. It tastes like meat, but it's vegan. It's sour and sweet. It's salty and peppery. It is a combination of so many different ingredients coming together as one. It's caponata and we need to make it. First thing we need to do I put olive oil in pan. This is so much olive oil. It's very good, make it hot. These are eggplants. Anybody could come up with an uglier name for a food, let me know. That's why the British affectionately called them aubergines. Once the olive oil is smiling, which, can you see the smile? It is happening. Do you see how it smiles? Like it's a physical thing. Do you see it? We are making caponata. Caponata is a sweet and sour eggplant relish. Eggplant has a lot of water in it. If you cut it up and put coarse salt all over it, that'll draw moisture out and that's good. If you fry them, that boils the water out and that's good. Once the bubbling stops, that means most of the moisture is out. And this just like if we were braising a meat at the beginning of a meat braise. Just basically trying to get some color and then it will cook through in the liquid. I'm gonna pull it out now. Okay. These are eggplants and they are ready. Let's use this semi-damaged teenage angst oil. It's been through a lot, but it's got character. Throw in some onion. Some bell pepper. We will throw in some celery. This is a Cajun sofrito right here. Straight up. Mix them well. If you want to hit it with a little bit of salt, it will pull moisture out and that's a good thing. So you'd find this in the south of Italy. You'd never find it in the north. So once there's some color and these start softening, you can add in some capers. Briny, umami salt. Olives, very important. Garlic. Little bit of pepper. Mix it around. If this is a chart of flavors, this dish is salty and sweet. It's got acidity, but it's also got sugar. It goes in all directions, is the point that I'm saying. Now, vinegar. Red wine vinegar. Don't be afraid. Little bit of balsamic vinegar here. Gives you a little deep, dark flavor. You can see it right away. At this point, we could get some zests of lemon. Okay. Come in with the beginning of our sweeteners. So, some tomato paste. Yes, tomato is sweet. At this point, you can come in with sugar. And you want this to be the last step because sugar burns. And now I come in with tomatoes. And now, finally, the plant of egg comes back in to cook fully. So time is something that can't really be fast-forwarded here. Be patient. So that's pretty much the gist of it there. I prefer to eat this cold but that's not gonna happen today. Mm. Caponata, what is it? It's just really damn good. It looks cool. If this were a rock band, they'd have more number one hits than any other. 'Cause there's just so much talent here.

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