It’s about time to get a lighter – and vegan – version of the popular Sicilian dish Caponata without compromise on taste
Readers of Coconut and Berries might remember me talking about a certain old Italian friend of mine, Giovanni, and the Castagnaccio recipe he taught me to make. Today, I’m sharing another one of his specialities- Caponata!
It’s a truly wonderful dish, a kind of thick aubergine (eggplant) stew or spread usually served as a side dish. It has that sweet/sour thing going on which is so popular in Sicilian recipes and which is a flavour profile I’m rather fond of.
Giovanni’s version is delicious but I was a little horrified to see that it called for half a cup of oil! I’m not against cooking with oil and it definitely improves the flavour of food but that amount seemed a little excessive to me. I set about to come up with a lightened-up version which didn’t compromise on taste.
It turned out wonderfully and just as thick, sweet and fragrant as I remembered it. It’s best served at room temperature and gets even better after sitting in the fridge overnight. As well as part of a snacky lunch plate, I enjoyed it spread generously on crusty bread and on top of courgette noodles with lentils for a rounded meal. Basically, it’s good with anything!
2 Medium aubergines
2 Tbsp Olive oil, divided
1 Onion, diced
2 Sticks of celery, diced
1 Small red or yellow pepper, diced
3 Cloves of garlic
1 400g/14oz Can of chopped tomatoes
1 Tbsp Coconut sugar
1-1/2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar
¼ C Chopped Green olives (pitted)
3 Tbsp Capers
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 200C/400F, halve the aubergines lengthwise and place, cut side down, on a lined baking tray. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until soft and the skin is slightly wrinkled. Leave until cool enough to handle then roughly chop into large chunks.
In a large pan over medium heat, cook the onion and celery for 5-10 minutes in 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add the garlic, diced pepper and a generous pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring for another 5 minutes. Add the aubergine, the remaining Tbsp of oil, the tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, olives and capers. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the aubergine is very soft. Season to taste and allow to cool to room temperature before serving.
(All photos by Emma Potts – All Rights Reserved)