Caponata Alla Giudia - Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant, Jewish Style

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Post  Thu, Oct 22 2020, 11:28 am
This was another excellent salad/dip which I made ahead of time. I have a caponata recipe which I have been making for years and this was as good. I love to have it around for a healthy nosh - much more palatable way of eating my veggies and I can make up a huge batch as easily as a small batch.

I do salt the eggplant to get rid of the bitter taste. I peel and dice and salt generously and then put it in a colander with a weighted plate and put in the sink to drain. Just don't forget to rinse the salt as I once did. Smile

Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant, Jewish Style - CAPONATA ALLA GIUDIA

Excerpt From: Joyce Goldstein - The New Mediterranean Jewish Table

Eggplants came to Spain with the Arabs, and the Jews took to the new vegetable right away. When the Inquisition banned the Jews from Spain and Spanish settlements in southern Italy, the Italian Jews fled north, bringing with them a repertoire of eggplant dishes. It’s not surprising that many of the best eggplant recipes are from Sicily, as that is where the Arabic influence was the greatest. They are often served at room temperature, which means they are ideal for preparing late on Friday for serving at Sabbath lunch.

The variations on Sicilian caponata are almost as numerous as the families on the island. In The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews, Edda Servi Machlin offers a particularly unusual version that adds peppers and carrots and is baked in the oven. Caponata is served at room temperature as part of an antipasto assortment or as an accompaniment to cooked meats or fish and is also tasty with grilled or toasted bread. Make it a day in advance so that the flavors can marry. Readjust the vinegar and salt at serving time, as they have a tendency to fade. Serve garnished with quartered hard-boiled
eggs, if you like.


2 large globe eggplants (about 1 pound each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 1½ cups extra virgin olive oil, or as needed
1 cup sliced or diced celery (½ inch thick)
2 yellow onions, chopped or sliced ¼ inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, or 1 cup tomato purée - I used Marzano canned tomatoes and just squashed them but diced canned tomatoes would work
½ cup red wine vinegar - I used balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons brined capers, rinsed
24 Mediterranean-style green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ cup pine nuts or blanched slivered almonds, toasted

Peel the eggplants and cut into 1-inch cubes. Put the cubes in a colander in the sink or over a bowl, sprinkle with salt, and let drain for about 1 hour. This will draw out any bitter juices. Rinse and pat dry.

Pour the oil to a depth of ¼ inch into a large, wide, preferably nonstick sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat. In batches, add the eggplant cubes and cook, turning often and adding oil as needed, until the eggplant is golden and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes for each batch. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Add oil to the pan as needed to measure 2 to 3 tablespoons and warm over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomatoes and return the celery to the pan. Stir well and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Return the eggplant to the pan and add the vinegar, sugar, capers, olives, and pine nuts. Turn down the heat to low and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the mixture has thickened and you can taste the vinegar when you bite into a piece of eggplant, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a serving dish and let stand for at least several hours or refrigerate overnight. Taste and adjust the seasoning before serving. Serve at room temperature.
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