If you have the time, make the caponata at least a day ahead; it’s one of those dishes that improves with time. Eat it as they do in Sicily: spooned over bread or focaccia, alongside roast lamb or chicken, paired with a wedge of pecorino…in short, with almost anything!
Slideshow: More Eggplant Recipes
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch celery hearts, sliced
1 red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 cup good-quality tomato sauce
1 cup green olives, pitted and torn into thirds
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 425°. Toss the eggplant with 4 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the eggplant on a baking sheet in 1 layer and roast until browned and tender, flipping halfway through, about 25 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, cook the celery in a small pot of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cooled. Drain well, and set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until just golden, about 5 minutes. Add the olives, capers, reserved celery, tomato sauce, sugar, vinegar and salt to taste. Gently stir in the eggplant, being careful not to break up the pieces. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a large bowl or platter and cool.
Garnish the caponata with the chopped parsley, and serve cold or at room temperature.
The caponata can be made up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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