Serve it with pasta, on its own, or as part of a charcuterie board; in Sicily caponata goes with everything. I think breakfast time was the only time we weren’t served this sweet and sour eggplant dish. Every restaurant and nona has their own recipe, resulting in different degrees of sweetness.  After asking almost everyone for their recipe, we learnt that the secret to the soft unctuous eggplant was to fry them. While not adverse to some deep-frying, I found that a generous drizzle of olive oil and baking them works just as well.

2 eggplants
1 red capsicum (optional)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 celery stalks
1 onion
⅓ cup Sicilian olives
¼ cup capers
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 400g tin of chopped or cherry tomatoes
¼ cup water
2 tbsp sugar
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
fresh mint and sliced almonds to garnish

Chop the eggplants and capsicum (if adding) into 2cm cubes. Toss with all but 2 tbsp of the olive oil and season with a little salt. Place on an oven tray and bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes or until the eggplant is very soft.
While the eggplant is cooking bring a large pot of water to boil. Chop the celery into 1cm pieces and then add to the boiling water.  Cook for 3–4 minutes then add the olives and capers. Cook for another minute before straining.
Peel and chop the onion into similar size pieces as the celery. Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the onion, and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add the blanched celery, olives, and capers and continue to cook for a few more minutes or until the onion is translucent. If it begins to brown turn down the heat.
Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute before adding the tinned tomatoes. Fill the tomato tin with ¼ cup of water and then add this to the pan too. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes before adding the sugar and vinegar. Stir and taste, adjusting the seasoning to taste.
Simmer for another 5 minutes before adding the cooked eggplant and capsicum.

Serve hot, warm, or cold garnished with fresh mint and some sliced almonds.

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