Sweet and Sour Aubergine (Caponata di melanzane)

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Indy Lifestyle Online

"When an Italian dish contains aubergines, pine nuts and sultanas, it's a good bet that it comes from Sicily. Caponata is a cross between a relish and a cooked vegetable salad, and makes perfect picnic food. At home, it also works well as an accompaniment to fish or poultry."

"When an Italian dish contains aubergines, pine nuts and sultanas, it's a good bet that it comes from Sicily. Caponata is a cross between a relish and a cooked vegetable salad, and makes perfect picnic food. At home, it also works well as an accompaniment to fish or poultry."

1 large aubergine, cut into 2cm ( 3/ 4in) cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, cut into 1cm ( 1/ 2in) dice
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 celery stalks, cut into 1cm ( 1/ 2in) dice
1/ 2 fennel bulb, cut into 1cm ( 1/ 2in) dice
About 125ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
75ml (2 1/ 2fl oz) good-quality red wine vinegar
50g (2oz) sultanas
50g (2oz) pine nuts
3 plum tomatoes, cut into 2cm ( 3/ 4in) dice
Bunch of basil, chopped
2 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the aubergine in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave to drain for at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté until soft. Transfer to a large bowl.

Rinse the aubergine and drain thoroughly. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep-fat fryer or a large, deep saucepan until it is hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 1 minute. Add the celery and fry for 1-2 minutes, until tender and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the fennel and aubergine.

Add the deep-fried vegetables to the onion. Season with salt and then add the extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sultanas, pine nuts, tomatoes, basil and sugar. Cover and leave to infuse for at least 2 hours.

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