Thursday, 2 February 2017

Caponata by Nigel Slater.

Sweet and sour dishes hold great pleasure for me, and none more so than this extraordinary salad of aubergine and tomato.
I put peppers in mine - some people do, some don't - and this is one of the very few times I ever peel an aubergine.
I can eat this Sicilian dish at any time of year, but especially now, when the sun is shining.
If you make it the day before, the flavours - salty, sweet and sour - will have time to marry in the fridge.

Serves 4
aubergines - 2, very large
olive oil
a large onion
garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
celery - 2 large sticks
a large red pepper
tomato purée - a scant tbs
tomato passata - 200ml
golden sultanas or raisins - 2 tbs
red wine vinegar - 4 tbs
sugar - 1 tbs
capers - 1 tbs
green olives - a handful

Peel the aubergines and remove their stalks.
Cut them into large chunks and place in a colander.
Sprinkle them with salt then set aside for an hour.

Peel the onion and slice it thinly then let it soften - but not colour - in a shallow layer of oil.
Add the garlic towards the end of cooking.
Remove the onion and garlic, then fry the celery, thinly sliced and pepper, cored and sliced, till soft.
Remove and add to the onion.

Rinse the salt from the aubergines, pat them dry with kitchen paper then soften in the same pan.
As it approaches tenderness, return the onion and garlic, celery and pepper to the pan, stir and continue cooking over a gentle heat.
Stir in the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, raisins, red wine vinegar, sugar, capers, olives and 150ml water.

Leave to simmer, gently, for about 25 minutes, keeping a careful eye to ensure you end up with a soft tangle of sweet-sour vegetables.
Chill overnight.
Serve with crusty bread.

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