Born from the combination of a few ingredients, this deliciously flavored dish is used most often as a side dish or as an appetizer. But how did the caponata come about? And how is it prepared? Let’s find out together.
On the origins of the name of this dish, there are several hypotheses, first of all deriving from the Greek "Capto", from the verb cut, since all the ingredients used to prepare the caponata are cut into pieces.
The second hypothesis is that the name derives from the Latin "Caupona", meaning tavern: in fact, the sailors used to stop and eat a piece of bread seasoned with capers, anchovies and oil right in the taverns, so this name refers to the origins of this food, poor but very satisfying.
The hypothesis that today all accept as the most plausible, however, is that the name derives from the term "Capone" (Lampuga in Italian): it is a fish present in the Mediterranean Sea, which was used in aristocratic dinners, and was often served in sweet and sour. Over time, and thanks to the dominations that followed in Sicily, the Lampuga was replaced with the aubergine, to allow the less wealthy classes to taste this dish. What is the real origin of the name remains a bit of a mystery, but the sure thing is that the caponata, both in the version with the Lampuga and in the version with aubergines, is certainly a dish that deserves to be tasted once they arrive in Sicily.
Throughout the island there are many recipes of caponata, about thirty.
The basic ingredients are:
eggplant (the long Violetta or the long Nera)
green or white olives
oil, salt, vinegar and sugar.
Cut the onion into slices and cut the celery into pieces about half a centimeter after removing all the filamentous parts. Put celery and onion in a pan with extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons of water (so the vegetables will not burn) and cook over medium heat until onions and celery become translucent (it will take about 10 minutes). Cut the olives into slices and remove the stone. Desalt the capers under running water. Add the olives and capers to the celery and onion sauce, season for two minutes and finally add the tomato. Season with salt. Cook the sauce for the caponata for about 10 minutes.
Pour the vinegar and sugar into a glass and mix well so that the latter dissolves completely: raise the heat in the vegetables and pour the sweet vinegar. Let it all evaporate (you will not have to feel the pungent aroma of vinegar) and add the fried aubergines. Mix the aubergines with the sauce, cook for two minutes, then pour the eggplant caponata on a plate and leave to cool: remember that the eggplant caponata is served warm or better still at room temperature. And I recommend (indeed, I would say I oblige you) to prepare the eggplant caponata one day in advance, so that the vegetables and vinegar have time to get acquainted.
We wish you a good preparation and tasting !!!