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Caponata
(Antipasto saporito di melanzane)

2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium yellow or red onion, coarsely chopped
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 sweet yellow pepper, diced
2 cups celery, sliced
2 cups chopped ripe plum tomatoes (or 1-28 oz. can plum
tomatoes, chopped, reserving some juice)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. capers
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
2-3 chopped anchovy filets (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. toasted pinenuts (toast on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for
about 3 mins. watch them closely)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle them generously
with salt. Let stand at least 1/2 hour; rinse well under cold
water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Heat 1/4 cup oil in
a deep heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute eggplant until
tender and almost golden. Remove and set aside.Add the garlic and
onions and saute until softened. Add celery, tomatoes, peppers,
and eggplant and cook for approx. 15 minutes uncovered. Combine
red wine vinegar with sugar and add to vegetable mixture. Simmer,
uncovered for about 15 - 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and
the flavors are well developed - add capers, chopped olives (and
anchovies, if using.) Continue cooking for a few more minutes.
Season the caponata with salt, pepper. Stir in basil leaves, toasted
pine nuts, and parsley. Serve hot, cold or at room temperature!

Traditionally, caponata is cooled, then refrigerated for 24 hours
before serving. Caponata also keeps well in the refrigerator for
up to a week and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

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