According to the author, “It’s hard to believe, for example, that eggplant and finocchio (fennel), the quintessence of Italian cooking, were originally only used by Jews.” She quotes Pellegrino Artusi in the cookbook “Scienza e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene” published in 1910 that forty year earlier (1870s) that eggplants and fennel rarely appeared in Florentine markets as they were considered to be Jewish food only. Together with tomatoes, a late import into the gastronomic traditions of Italy by way of Spain from the Americas, Caponata has become not merely a Jewish culinary tradition, but like Artichokes, an Italian one.
- 3 pounds eggplant
- 3/4 Cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 2 pounds tomatoes; ripe, peeled* and
- 1 Cup green olives; pitted,
- 2 Tablespoons wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon parsley, Italian; fresh
- 2 Tablespoons capers; drained
- 2 celery stalks; diced
- 1 onion; large, diced
- 3 peppers, green, red and yellow, cored and diced
- 1 garlic clove-sliced
- 1 carrot; large, peeled and diced
- 3 basil leaves; fresh, or chopped dried basil
- * To peel tomatoes, drop them first into boiling water for about 1 minute, then in cool water and the peel will come off immediately. Soak in ice water till ready.
- Peel and dice eggplant.
- Season with salt and pepper and set aside in colander to drain off liquid.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet; add celery, onion, peppers, garlic and carrot and cook, uncovered, over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Transfer vegetables to shallow baking dish, but retain the oil. Add eggplant to oil in skillet and sprinkle with flour.
- Fry, stirring, over moderate heat, until lightly golden. Add to baking dish with vegetables. Add tomatoes, green olives, vinegar, sugar, basil and parsley and place in 350 degrees F oven for 1/2 hour.
- Remove from oven; mix well, taste for seasonings and add salt and pepper if necessary. Add capers, stir and place in oven for a couple of minutes longer.
- Serve hot as a side dish or cold as an appetizer.
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