From now until October, eggplant abounds at Greenmarkets in New York. One way to enjoy these lovely purple plants is with caponata, a cold southern Italian eggplant starter that goes great with warm, crusty bread. Raffaele Ronca, the executive chef at Palma, a rustic Southern Italian joint at 28 Cornelia Street in the West Village, shared with us this recipe for traditional Sicilian caponata.
Traditional Sicilian Caponata
Ronca recommends caponata be enjoyed as antipasti over focaccia, crostini or buffalo mozzarella. It can also be served as a primi over penne pasta or as a main dish over grilled swordfish.
Extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow pepper cut into ½ inch dice
1 red pepper cut into ½ inch dice
1 red onion cut into ½ inch dice
3 hearts of celery cut into ½ inch dice
2 large eggplants cut into ½ inch dice
2 tbs natural sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 oz red wine vinegar
½ cup currants
1 cup tomato sauce
20 leaves of fresh basil
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium size sauté pan. Add peppers, onion and celery and sauté until soften. Meanwhile, in another pan, sauté the eggplant until cooked. Combine all vegetables in a large sauté pan, keeping heat at medium; add sugar, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, currants, tomato sauce and basil. Cook, stirring over medium heat, for 3 minutes.