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Categories: Salads, Vegetarian

Eggplant and Olive Salad (Capunatina)

"The first day of August is the first day of winter," or so they say in Polizzi Generosa, Sicily. The adage goes back 1,000 years to the time when agriculture became the principle occupation in this mountain community. Throughout the ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour plus 1 hour cooling and 30 minutes chilling | Serves 12
Note: Turnugustu, "turning taste," is basic to the spirit of Sicilian cuisine. The flavors of this capunatina illustrate this spirit, turning from sweet to salty and from bitter to piquant all in one bite. Serve this with good crusty bread to scoop it up Moroccan style.

Eggplant

  • 1 pound large green olives with pits
  • 2 large eggplants, about 1 1/4 pounds each
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

Step 1Smash each olive with flat side of knife or kitchen mallet to facilitate removal of pit. To eliminate strong salt flavor from olives, soak pieces in cold water for rest of preparation time, changing water 3 times.

Step 2Peel eggplant. Cut in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 1/2-inch slices lengthwise. Cut lengths into 1/2-inch pieces.

Step 3Place oil and celery in large, heavy-bottomed pot. Saute over medium heat until celery is translucent but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add eggplant. Coat it with oil and cook, stirring so it doesn't burn or stick, about 5 minutes.

Step 4Drain olives and add them to pot, mixing well. Stir in raisins. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook at low heat until eggplant is quite soft, almost a chunky paste, 40 to 60 minutes. Stir from time to time.

Tomato sauce

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh basil, chopped
  • Freshly ground pepper

Step 1Place tomatoes in bowl and squeeze them into a puree with your hands. Place olive oil and garlic into small, heavy saucepan over medium heat. When garlic turns golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes, discard it.

Step 2Stir tomatoes into oil until well-blended and "creamy." Season with salt, then add sugar, basil and several grindings of pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until sauce has thickened a bit, about 10 minutes. If sauce is ready before eggplant, turn off heat and leave it on stove until needed.

Assembly

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup blanched slivered almonds

Step 1When eggplant is ready, remove lid, turn up heat and boil away liquid that separates when mixture is pushed aside with wooden spoon.

Step 2Reduce heat, add Tomato Sauce and cook uncovered until capunatina thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

Step 3Remove pot from heat, add vinegar and red pepper flakes. Turn capunatina into serving bowl. Stir in cocoa powder and almonds.

Step 4While it cools, stir from time to time. When it reaches room temperature, about 1 hour, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until slightly chilled, about 30 minutes. If capunatina has been made in advance, let come to room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Each serving:
203 calories; 376 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 2.12 grams fiber.
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