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caponata

Cooked eggplant (aubergine) salad

A Sicilian classic, caponata is a sweet-sour salad that originally consisted (in its most aristocratic form) of fried aubergines, baby octopus, lobster, swordfish, smoked tunny fish roe, prawns, hard-boiled eggs, capers, olives and celery, in a sweet-sour sauce of orange juice, olive oil, almonds, bread, anchovies, sugar, vinegar and chocolate.

These days a caponata with seafood is usually called caponata di pesce. Often the caponata is served on the side of a fish dish. There's also caponatina, a simpler version of the above, aubergine, capers, green olives, celery, sugar, vinegar, olive oil and grated chocolate, cooked all together. But there are many recipes (one good one is here). The Neapolitan version is called cianfotta.

Caponata is extremely versatile: it tastes good warm or cold, and nearly always better after a day or two. It's also a good topping for bruschetta, with a bit of pecorino cheese.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: miss_yasmina