Caponata can be served on bruschetta or with salad leaves, and it's also perfect as a side with roasted chicken, pork or beef. The sweet and sour nature of caponata lends itself to other vegetables: use fennel, artichoke or zucchini instead of the eggplant, or a combination of any of them.
2 medium eggplants, cut into 2cm dice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, for frying
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
4 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
5 celery stalks, stringed and cut into
2 tbsp small salted capers, rinsed thoroughly in cold water
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and quartered
400g tin crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Sprinkle eggplant with salt and leave for 20 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse off the juices. Dry with paper towel.
Pour enough olive oil in a frying pan to reach 2cm up the sides. When it is hot and just about to start smoking, add eggplant and fry until coloured and soft (about 5 minutes) - you can do this in two batches. Drain eggplant on paper towel.
Drain oil from the pan and add 3 tbsp of fresh extra virgin olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Return eggplant to pan then add capers and olives and toss together. Pour in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and basil. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes.
Caponata can be served straight away or refrigerated to allow the flavours to combine further.
Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Dominic Smith.