Just as it is a fact that as autumn starts, the tomatoes ripen and all is right with the world. The fruit we associate with summer salads actually waits to get ripe just at the end of August or through the first half of September.
So, every year I go to my aunt’s kitchen garden with the biggest basket I can find. Because every year they grow too many tomatoes, and every yeah I am thankful for this abundance.
They’ve got a 200 year-old walled kitchen garden – so with 200 years of cultivation and effort, it is seriously productive. Plus of course it has greenhouses all along the south-facing walls, so they can grow chillies, grapes, melons and even aubergines. It is one of the best times of year! And I am right there helping them eat their produce. I am helpful like that.
This year we got given some of those lovely aubergines too. And what do you do with aubergines and tomatoes, especially as evenings start getting colder? You make caponata of course. This is one of the easiest dishes in the world to make.
In fact, I usually make the caponata at the same time as feeding the children their pancakes (pancakes are their favourite at the moment. If they had their way, they’d have pancakes for tea every single day).
You can chop the aubergines and salt them, in between pancakes, then the onions start cooking as the next couple of pancakes go on, and by the time sticky fingers from all that lemon juice and sugar are being wiped, the onions have softened, the chopped tomatoes are in, and usually I’ve just started to fry the aubergine. Then it is mix, let bubble, and wait till supper.
One of the great things about caponata is the fact that it lasts so long and is versatile. It will keep in the fridge for days, and you can eat it as a side dish, on bruschetta, as pretty much the main deal in the meal or even in sandwiches.
So guys, enough of the chat. Here is how to make this caponata aubergine stew. Please do try it and if you do make it, then please do tag #recipesfromapantry on Instagram or twitter so that I can pop over and have a look. It is really, really awesome for me when you make any one of my recipes.
Thank you for reading my caponata recipe post. And please come visit again as I continue dreaming up recipes, traditional African recipes, African fusion recipes, Sierra Leone recipes, travel plans and much more for you.
- 2 medium aubergine eggplant cut into 1-cm cubes
- Ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions peeled and finely chopped
- 0.5 tsp garlic paste
- 6 large plum tomatoes, peeled de-seeded and chopped
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbps maple syrup
- 1 tbsp finely grated dark chocolate
- 2 tbsps capers rinsed
- 50 g (2oz) pitted green olives, sliced
- A handful of chopped fresh herbs to garnish
- Add aubergine cubes into a large colander, sprinkle on 2 tsp of salt and mix. Then set aside for about 30 mins to allow the aubergine juices to be drawn out. Rinse them and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- In the meantime, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion, and garlic and sauté for 8-10 mins until soft. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 mins.
Then mix in the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, chocolate, capers and olives to the pot and simmer for another 5 to10 mins, stirring regularly then switch off the heat.
- In a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, then fry the aubergine for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender. Then transfer them into the tomato sauce.
- Bring the pot back to a simmer and cook for about 10 mins, then switch off the heat, cover, and leave until completely cooled. Adjust the seasoning.
- Serve straight away or refrigerate for a day or so before serving topped with fresh chopped herbs.
Slightly adapted from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.
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