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Majolica Travel S.r.l.s.

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MY GRANDMA CARMELA'S CAPONATA

2021-10-04 11:15 AM

Marialuisa Fiorito

Tasty Island, Food, Recipes, Sicily Food Tour,

MY GRANDMA CARMELA'S CAPONATA

Some dishes take me back to my childhood. One of these is the Caponata!

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Some dishes take me back to my childhood. One of these is the caponata. It is a dish of sweet and sour vegetables, a set of fried vegetables, almost always aubergines seasoned with tomato sauce, celery, onion, olives, capers, and a sauce of sugar and vinegar. I have a very fond memory of my grandmother Carmela who prepared various delicious recipes of Sicilian cuisine when I was a child. One of my favorites is the caponata. I remember at home there was a mixture of perfumes, fried aubergine, and bitter-sweet sauce. My grandmother used to prepare kilos of it (and not so to speak) to be kept in "buatte" (vacuum-packed glass containers). 
Some of them were given to various relatives, and the rest were kept for months and consumed when wanted. However, my grandmother knew that I was fond of it, so extra portions were reserved for me, and I assure you, they stayed in the pantry for very little time. 

Since my grandmother passed away almost ten years ago, I have tried to prepare caponata several times. I've tried to follow her recipe down to the smallest detail, but aware of never being able to match my grandmother's, which was the best I have ever eaten.

 

 

My grandmother's recipe still lives thanks to my aunt and me, without whom this recipe would have been lost forever, and thanks to this recipe, I relive that carefree period of childhood.

 

 

Caponata has a somewhat mysterious history. Even today, the origins are uncertain, and there are as many as 35 recognized versions, which are added slightly different Neapolitan versions with fish. The recipe was born from the need for savings, typical of many truly successful ancient recipes handed down today. The name caponata should derive from capone, a dialect word for lampura, a fish widely used in aristocratic tables, served in a sweet and sour sauce. The people, who could not afford the fish, too expensive for their pockets, replaced the lampura with aubergines, much cheaper. The vegetables chosen were in season and varied according to the places of origin. That's why there are so many recipe variations scattered throughout Sicily.

 

My version is the one from Palermo (being my family from Palermo), and I like to think that by sharing this recipe so dear to me, you too can make something to share with your family and spend a day in the kitchen together.


Let's start with the ingredients:

  • 6 eggplants (I use the round ones);
  • extravirgin olive oil;
  • 2 medium onions;
  • a bunch of celery;
  • 250 g of green olives, pitted;
  • 500 ml of tomato sauce;
  • 2 tablespoons of salted capers;
  • half a glass of white vinegar;
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar;
  • salt.

Cut the aubergines into pretty large cubes (3-4 cm) and fry them in plenty of hot oil. When they become golden and soft, let them cool on a tray with absorbent paper to remove excess oil.

Cut the celery into chunks and blanch it in a saucepan with some water to soften it (the water must evaporate completely). Meanwhile, cut the onions into slices and fry them with oil. Add the celery and let it sauté. In the meantime, you have to rinse the capers to remove the excess salt and cut the green olives in half. Also, add these to the sauté for a few minutes. Finally, add the tomato sauce and simmer until the sauce becomes more compact and creamy.

When cooked, add the vinegar and sugar. I recommend adding the vinegar gradually and adjusting the sweet and sour according to your taste (in my caponata, the sweet and sour taste stands out a lot). Next, turn off the heat and start adding the aubergines, mix well, adjust the salt and simmer for a few minutes to let the aubergines flavor well. Then, remove everything from the heat, and let it cool well.
At this point, the caponata is ready!

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Caponata is considered an appetizer or side dish. It suites for dinners in large families because you can prepare a large portion even a few days before, and serve it with bruschettas of hot bread, or combined with a meat dish.

 

This is my Grandma Carmela's recipe, but if you want to learn other traditional Sicilian recipes, contact us and request information about our Sicily Food Tour. You'll take part in many cooking classes and learn popular Sicilian recipes handed down from generation to generation.

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