Apparently I am going to have to add Sicilian food to the list of my favorites. It seems that a lot of things I've tried and liked lately have been Sicilian. I don't really know enough about it to actually say what makes a dish Sicilian, but the fact that I know nothing about something has never stopped me in the past from going on and on about it. I see no reason to let ignorance stop me now, do you? Peter from Kalofagas.Ca is off in Greece right now, or I'm sure he could set me straight on the ins and outs of Sicilian cooking. What I like about it is the combination of sweet and sour and the lovely addition of raisins or currants.
So, pair my new found love for Sicilian cooking and my CSA's insistence on supplying me with a never ending pile of eggplant, I turned to Everyday Italian: 125 Simple and Delicious Recipes from Giada. (Side note - Giada is like Marilyn and Madonna, first name only needed.) She says that caponata is one of the great Sicilian vegetable dishes, and I have to agree. This was wonderful. It was sweet and sour, and served over polenta made a nice side dish for my spatchcocked chicken (ha!). One thing though, it is not very photogenic. Seriously, I took one shot from above and the capanota spread over the polenta, looked like someone might have become sick on my plate. It should come with a warning "eat at an angle".
6 side-dish servings
1/4 cup olive oil
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cored seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes and their juices (I used fresh diced tomatoes)
3 tablespoons raisins
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon drained capers
1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
fresh basil leaves for garnish (ooops - forgot!)
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the celery and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the eggplant and saute for about 2 minutes. Add the onions and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the red pepper and saute about 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and their juice, raisins, and oregano. Simmer over a medium-low heat until the flavors blend together and the mixture thickens. This will take about 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, sugar, caper, and the salt and pepper. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with the basil leaves for garnish.