Caponata is one of those classic eggplant dishes that once eaten, is never forgotten. This delicious sweet and sour version of the traditional antipasto is a wonderful addition to any summer BBQ. It is... wonderful either spread over grilled bread, bruschetta-style, or as a tasty accompaniment to grilled fish or chicken. It is very easy to make too. An added bonus is that aside from being so tasty, this dish is loaded with healthy oils and the many phytonutrients that eggplant, celery, and tomatoes literally bring to the table.
Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (See Chef Tips)
Put 1 tbsp olive oil into a bowl and quickly toss the eggplant in it to coat. The oil will take patchily to the eggplant. Drizzle an extra 1-2 teaspoons of oil onto the prepared baking sheet. Tip on the eggplant and spread out into a single layer. Roast on a high shelf until golden for about 20-25 minutes turning after about 10 minutes. Set aside in the pan.
Meanwhile place the celery in a small pan and add the boiling water. Cook over a high flame until just tender but still crisp about 5 minutes. Set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a sauté pan over a medium high flame. When it ripples, add the onion. Cook stirring from time to time until it is transparent and starting to color, about 5-8 minutes. Add the tomato concentrate and cook stirring 1 minute or until it just starts to caramelize. Add the celery and its cook water. Stir to mix. Add the capers, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Cook 5 minutes.
Add the roasted eggplant, vinegar and sugar to taste. Stir to mix. Lower the flame to medium and cook partially covered for 5 minutes. Completely cover and turn off the heat. Leave to cool. Serve at room temperature.
To give the eggplant a good start, preheat the lined baking sheet in the oven.
Two medium eggplants can be used in place of one large one. After dicing the eggplant, lightly salt it and leave it to drain in a colander. You’ll be amazed at how much liquid will drain out!