Caponata

  • olive oil
  • 2 large purple aubergines, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • a small bunch of chives or coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • a handful of pitted olives, green or black, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons best-quality herb or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tin of chopped plum tomatoes
  • optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds or pine nuts, lightly toasted

Serves 4

In a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add your aubergine chunks and oregano, season with a little salt, and toss around so the aubergine is evenly coated by the oil. Cook on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook the aubergine in batches.)

When the aubergines are nice and golden on each side, add the onion and garlic, and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it’s getting too dry.

Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender. In the meantime, toast the almonds or pine nuts lightly in a dry frying pan until they are slightly coloured but not burned.

Taste the caponata before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped chives or coriander and the toasted almonds or pine nuts.

This works as a lovely side vegetable when hot, as part of a picnic when at room temperature, or with a salad when cold. You can also use it as a pasta sauce if there are any leftovers, although that’s really not a traditional use for it!

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