To my surprise, my favorite food I had in Italy was actually not the pasta or pizza; it was a traditional Sicilian appetizer known as the Caponata. I asked every local Italian I met (and who spoke English) for tips on how to make this unique dish, and when I got back to the US I immediately started doing test-runs based on their recommendations. After a few failed attempts, I finally nailed down a recipe that tastes exactly like the incredible dishes I had in Sicily! I hope you enjoy!
Cooking time: 1 hour
2 medium sized eggplants
2 red Dolce Mediterranean peppers
1/2 yellow onion
1 celery stalk
2 Tbsp capers
2 cups crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (separated)
1 cup water
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
Chop the eggplant, peppers, onion, and celery into small cubes. Keep each ingredient separate.
Place the eggplant in a large skillet with 2/3 cup olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until the eggplant has turned brown and is easy to cut through. Use a slotted spoon to move the eggplant to a separate bowl, leaving as much olive oil in the pan as possible.
Add the chopped peppers and a pinch of salt to the large skillet with the remaining oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until soft. Move the peppers to the bowl with the eggplant.
Add the additional tablespoon of oil, yellow onion, celery, and capers to the pan, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is brown and soft. Add the crushed tomatoes and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Transfer eggplant and peppers back to the pan, and add the water, vinegar, and sugar. Stir frequently and cook on medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated off. This will take approximately 10 minutes.
* Although Dolce Mediterranean Peppers are common in Sicily, I had to do a bit of searching before I could find them back in the US. I eventually found them at Central Market. If you aren't sure what to look for, they are long, flat, red peppers.
If you make this caponata, post a picture of it on social media and tag me in it so I can see!