- 8 small eggplants - (4" to 5" long) cut into 1" chunks
- Coarse salt as needed
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups thinly-sliced celery
- 1 1/2 cups peanut oil more or less
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 medium onions thinly sliced
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 cup chopped pitted Sicilian olives in brine
- 1/2 cup capers in brine drained
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- Fine sea salt to taste
- Coarsely-ground black pepper to taste
Place the eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with coarse salt, and let sweat in the sink or on a plate for 1 hour. Rinse and dry well.
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the celery and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the celery, reserving the water, and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat 3/4 cup peanut oil. Add half the eggplant and fry, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to brown paper to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more peanut oil as necessary. Drain off the oil
In the same frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. All the onions and saute until soft, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the tomato paste, the reserved celery water, the vinegar, olives, capers, sugar, and cocoa and mix well. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and celery, stir well, let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the salt and pepper.
Spoon the caponata into clean jars, cap, and refrigerate or freeze. (If freezing, be sure to allow room for expansion in the jars.) Serve at room temperature.
This recipe yields ?? servings.