The recipe for traditional Italian caponata comes from Sicily. The culinary traditions of the largest Mediterranean island are thousands of years in the making.
Numerous conquerors have left their mark there - Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Greeks, Germanic tribes, the French and Spanish. Each of them have contributed in some way to the local culinary tradition, which today is among the most diverse in all of Italy.
Along the shores of the island, Sicilian fisherman catch fish which they call capone. In the past it was a rarity and found presence at the table of only the wealthiest. Since capone was a dry fish, local chefs would prepare it with a special vegetable sauce.
For the poor it was unattainable and they would make do with only the vegetable version of it. And so, at the beginning of the 15th century, the vegetable caponata worked its way into the menu of the traditional Sicilian taverns.
In the 16th century, the 1st eggplants were also grown on the island, completely substituting the rare fish in the product list for caponata.
There are 33 known versions of the recipe for Italian caponata in the world. Here you will find the original and most commonly used one:
Products: 4 large eggplants, 2 medium onion heads, 2 large tomatoes, 6-8 dried tomatoes, 2 bunches of celery, 3.5 oz of pitted plums, 2 oz capers, 2 tbsp sugar, 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar, olive oil, salt.
Preparation: Dice the eggplants, salt them and leave them aside. Prepare the other products while the bitter juice drains away.
Dip the tomatoes for several seconds in hot water and then peel them. Remove the seeds and cut the tomatoes into medium sized cubes. Peel the onions and cut them into thin rounds slices. Chop the celery and dried tomatoes.
Braise the onions in 2 tablespoons olive oil until fully softened. After about 5 min. add the tomatoes and cook another 5 min. Add the celery and in 3 or 4 min. the plums and capers as well. Cook the ingredients on low heat about 10 min.
Wash the eggplant, cut it and braise it in a separate container. Drain it from the oil and add it to the remaining products. Pour in the sugar and vinegar and cook another 10 min. Season the caponata to taste and remove it from the heat. Serve it either warm or cold.