Serves 4 | prep 20 mins | total time
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 aubergine
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 1 small red pepper
- 1 stick of celery (optional)
- 1 fat garlic clove
- 8 black olives
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed
- 1 tbsp sultanas or raisins (optional)
- 2 tbsp shredded mint
Make a few hours ahead; serve at room temperature.
- Toast the pine nuts in a large frying pan until golden; tip onto a plate. Slice the stalk from the aubergine, then chop the aubergine into smallish cubes, about 1½cm. Heat half of the oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine until really soft and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion, deseed and slice or chop the pepper and chop the celery too, if using. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Pit and chop the olives.
- Transfer the fried aubergine pieces to the plate with the pine nuts.
Tip Caponata, an aubergine-based vegetable dish, is made all over Sicily with varying additions. It is delicious as a starter with bread but also works well with lamb or fish. You can vary what you add to it – I sometimes add chopped ripe tomato to the mix and in Sicily I ate it with small chunks of potato and carrot added too. The pine nuts and sultanas reflect the Arabic influence on Sicilian cooking.
- Next, add the rest of the oil to the pan and, when sizzling, add the chopped onion, pepper and celery (if using) and stir together over the heat for 8-10 minutes to soften. Mix the sugar with the vinegar in a cup.
- Add the garlic to the pan, cook it for 30 seconds, then return the pine nuts and aubergine to the pan and add the vinegary mixture, the chopped olives, capers, sultanas or raisins (if using) and the mint; stir. Season to taste and serve warm or at room temperature.