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Caponata
Italian
Side
Over 2 hours
Vegetables/vegetarian
Easy
Serves
8

This caponata recipe from much-loved Soho restaurant Bocca di Lupo demonstrates how to do this seemingly humble dish right — a little time and effort, along with quality ingredients and plenty of care, will deliver flavour in bounds. Top off with some slivers of anchovy if the mood takes you.

Recipe courtesy of
Ingredients
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large aubergines, cut in 3cm chunks
  • 2 medium onions, sliced across the grain
  • 1 head celery, cut in 3cm chunks
  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, soaked until tolerably salty
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 700g plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 6 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 anchovy fillets, halved lengthways into 6 strips (optional)
Method
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Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan/Gas Mark 3)
  2. Sprinkle the aubergine with salt (just enough to season the aubergine, no more, no less) and let it sit for 10 minutes. Heat a 3cm depth of vegetable oil to about 190°C in a wide pan and fry the aubergines until golden brown. Drain well and leave to blot on absorbent paper.
  3. Fry the onions in the olive oil in a wide pan over a medium heat until starting to soften, for 5—10 minutes. A pinch of salt early on will help them along.
  4. Add the celery, capers and garlic and fry for a further 10—15 minutes, until the onions are completely soft, the celery still crunchy and vivid green. Spread this cooked vegetable mixture out in a roasting tin, no more than 2cm deep. Arrange the aubergines on top, and finish with the quartered tomatoes, cut-sides up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as well as the sugar and the vinegar. 
  5. Cook in a low oven for an hour and a half, until the watery juices have evaporated to a thick syrup, and the tomatoes are halfway to being dried. Taste the liquor a few times during cooking: there should be a robust balance of sweet, sour and salt. 
  6. Take the caponata from the oven and leave it to cool — it should be served only slightly warm, or at room temperature. Toss the vegetables together before serving scattered with parsley, the anchovy fillets draped over if you want them. 
  7. Because of its acidity, caponata made in this way can keep for at least a week in the fridge.

The Pass was created to help the many people now struggling to feed themselves and their families as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. If you like or use this recipe, please consider making a small donation to Hospitality Action to help those whose livelihoods have all but disappeared.

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