This is a delicious eggplant and celery dish is great as an appetizer, as a condiment or salad ingredient. Truthfully for the effort, this is best made in double or triple batches. Quite laborious, worth the effort and lends itself well for canning. For this recipe, I did not do a hot water bath, rather used a cold can approach which lasts quite some time in fridge. My cousin Gino and his dad (my favorite) Uncle Gene love this with Italian tuna in a sandwich.
Common to those of us living a gluten free a gluten free life means paying close attention to hidden gluten. White vinegar is our nemesis and is hidden in fermented and canned foods, as well as condiments. Be sure to purchase glutenf free capers, if you are are purchasing capers in liquid brine. One can use capers packed in salt, clean off the salt and soak to rehydrate; then use in your favorite caper rich recipes.
Yields 1 pint
5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus a bit to top off jar for storage
1 small Italian or Asian Eggplant, cubed
2 Celery Stalks (about ¾ cup), cut into bite sized pieces
½ cup Green Olives, pitted and cut in half or left whole
¾ cup Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon gluten free Capers
½ cup Tomato Paste
1 cup water
¼ cup Red wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon White Sugar
To prepare the eggplant, cube and lightly salt to remove bitters. Pat with paper towel to remove bitter water droplets that form.
In a separate small bowl or cup, add tomato paste, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, water, vinegar and sugar. Combine and stir together with a fork or whisk, set aside.
Using a heavy bottomed fry or sauté pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in pan on medium high heat. When oil is sufficiently warmed, add eggplant and sauté to a light brown. You may need to drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil during cooking. Eggplant absorbs oil like a sponge.
Once eggplant is lightly browned, add another 2 more Tablespoons of olive oil to pan itself (I push the eggplant out of the way and add the oil to the pan itself). Then add celery, onion and garlic.
Sauté all until celery is limp and onion/garlic are translucent on medium low heat with lid slightly ajar.
Add capers and olives, stir and combine all ingredients in pan.
Pour tomato paste mixture over the vegetables.
Bring to rolling simmer, lower heat. Simmer on low, cover with lid slightly ajar, for a few minutes. Allow the vinegar to burn off and flavor to mellow.
I recommend allowing the Caponata to sit for at least a few hours or overnight prior to serving. This time allows the flavors to marry and become completely harmonized.
When serving, drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.
Storage: jar with tight fitting lid. Place Caponata in jar, use back of spoon to press down and remove all air pockets. Top off with olive oil. Place tight fitting lid on top. If you are using a canning jar, leave upside down on a towel to cool and then place in fridge. The Caponata in a jar will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. You can just move forward and proceed with a hot water bath to fully can, if you have the time and the supplies.
Caponata takes about an hour and a half to prepare, not including time for eggplant to press.
“Caponata” by Liz Conforti, Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2014
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