Caponata is terrific for entertaining because you can make it ahead of time. In fact, it gets better as it sits. Serve it in a bowl surrounded by wholegrain biscuits or toasted sourdough baguette slices. You can also use it to perk up a sandwich filling or enliven a tomato-based pasta sauce.
Patsy Jamieson, Diane Temple
3 tablespoons olive oil
450g eggplant, cut into 1 cm cubes
1 small onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (400g) tin diced tomatoes (undrained)
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed), finely chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/3 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons currants
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
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Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add half of the eggplant and cook, stirring and turning, until browned and tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the frying pan and repeat with the remaining eggplant. Set aside.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the frying pan. Add onion and celery. Cook, stirring often, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olives, capers, sugar and reserved eggplant and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover the frying pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a chunky jam-like consistency, about 15 minutes.
Add the currants and cook, covered, for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts and parsley. Let cool before serving.