August 31, 2015 by dgarnett2013
Aubergine Caponata: A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield
Serves 6 – 8 as a side
- 900g large aubergines, unpeeled, topped, tailed and cut into about 4cm pieces
- ½ tab sea salt
- 450g tomatoes, peeled and cored
- 110ml plus 3 tabs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium Spanish onion (about 225g), finely chopped
- 560g celery, bottoms trimmed, stalks cut into 1cm irregularly shaped pieces, inner leaves reserved and roughly chopped
- 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Maldon or another flaky sea salt
- 4 dried pequin chillies, crumbled, or pinches of red pepper flakes
- 1 tab red wine vinegar
- 45g Nicoise olives (or mixture of varieties), smashed with the flat of a knife, pits removed and very roughly chopped
- 35g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 2 tabs drained capers, roughly chopped
- A five-ginger pinch of basil leaves, roughly chopped at the last minute
Toss the aubergine and sea salt together in a colander and set the colander over a bowl. Let the aubergines site for about 30 mins.
Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes and trim off any pale bits. Hold each chunk over a bowl, and use your fingers to push out the juice and seeds. Strain the juice, discarding the seeds. Finely chop the tomatoes.
Heat 3 tabs of the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion, celery, garlic and 1 tsp of the Maldon salt.
Cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, until the onion is translucent and begins to stick to the pot, about 10 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and cook the vegetables for another 10 minutes.
Add the chillies and keep cooking, stirring and scraping occasionally, until the vegetables are light brown, soft and sweet, about 10 mins more.
Stir in the tomatoes and their strained juice and let the mixture simmer, stirring now and then, for about 15 mins.
Pat the aubergine dry. Heat the remaining 110ml of olive oil in a medium cast-iron frying pan over medium heat until it shimmers. Cook the aubergine in two batches to avoid crowding the pan, turning the pieces often and adjusting the heat if necessary, until they’re deep golden brown on the outside and creamy inside, 10 – 12 minutes per batch. Put the aubergine on paper towels to drain. Let it cook to warm.
Transfer the aubergine to a large bowl, sprinkle with the vinegar and a pinch or two of Maldon salt and give a very light stir, being careful not to smooth the pieces. To the bowl, add the tomato mixture, olives, pine nuts, capers, basil, and a small handful of the reserved celery leaves. Have another gentle stir, and season to taste with Maldon salt.
The caponata will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, but you should always serve it at room temperature.
Made after we returned from Camber the second time, with Bay, Billy and Sylvie.