1Tbspsundried tomato paste or regular tomato paste/purée
2Tbspred wine vinegaror any vinegar, but not all balsamic
1Tbsproasted pine nuts
1small handfulbasil leaves
freshly ground black pepper
5TbspEV olive oil
Let’s prep the vegetablesHalve, then thinly slice the onion.
Chop up the aubergines into 2-5cm/1″-2″ cubes. I like them on the bigger side, but make them small if you prefer.
Chop the celery into 2.5cm/1″ slices.
Halve the tomatoes, cut each half into 4, then halve each one again. So 16 pieces from each tomato.
Halve the olives.
Rinse the capers.
Let’s get cookingHeat 2 Tbsp of oil in a large non stick, fairly deep pan, on medium-high heat. It’s easier to stir and toss your food in a pan that has some depth.
Fry the aubergine pieces, tossing them immediately so the oil isn’t absorbed by just a handful of them. Doesn’t matter if it is. Keep frying the aubergines until they take on a brown, slightly charred colour. Keep tossing or turning them to colour them all around. Do this for 5 minutes. Halfway through, drizzle 1 Tbsp of oil all over, and mix it all up. When done, tip the aubergines onto a plate and set aside.
In the same pan, heat 2 Tbsp of oil on medium-low heat and fry the onions for 3 minutes, until softened.
Add the celery and fry for 1 minute.
Next add the tomatoes, olives, capers, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt, stir and cook for 1 minute.
Tip the aubergines back in and stir well.
Cover, lower heat to minimum and cook for 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times during this time.
Turn the heat off, check seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Stir in the pine nuts, tear the basil leaves up and add to the caponata, and finally finish with lots of freshly ground black pepper.
You can serve it now, if you like, but leaving it to cool is the more traditional way of serving it.