Sicilian Eggplant Relish Caponata


  • 3 lbs (1.5 kg) eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) salt
  • 1/3 cup (75 mL) olive oil
  • 4 stalks celery, trimmed, cut diagonally into ½-inch (1 cm) pieces, blanched
  • ¼ cup (50 mL) balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups (500 mL) passata (puréed, sieved tomatoes) or canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup (125 mL) large green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup (125 mL) black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp (45 mL) capers (preferably salt-packed, rinsed)
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) currants, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained and patted dry
  • 2 tbsp (25 mL) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (125 mL) roughly chopped mint
  • ½ cup (125 mL) roughly chopped basil


1. Put cubed eggplant in a colander set in the sink. Toss with the salt. Set a plate on top of eggplant and add a weight. Let stand 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Rinse eggplant under cold running water; drain and pat dry with paper towel. Toss eggplant with 3 tbsp (45 mL) of the olive oil; spread onto baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and starting to brown. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add celery, garlic and onions; cook for 6 minutes or until onions are softened. Do not let garlic brown. Sir in passata, green and black olives, capers, pine nuts, currants, sugar and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
3. Stir in mint; cook 5 minutes longer. Transfer to large serving dish. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours to develop flavors. Serve at room temperature, sprinkled with chopped basil.


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