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Monday, April 2, 2012

Caponata (Mama Sasso's)

~Extra Large Jar of Mama's Caponata Just For Me!~
What is Caponata? It is an ancient Southern Italian dish with a sweet&sour taste that consists of fried eggplant, onions, celery, capers, tomatoes, and olives and it is the perfect thing to make in the Summer time when you have an over abundance of eggplant!  It is mainly served cold as an appetizer “antipasto” with bread but I also like it served warm as a "sauce" for spaghetti. Naples has it's own version and even though both of my parents are Neapolitan my Mom always made this Sicilian version. She would make it in the summer time when eggplant was at its best and can it, then we would have it around Christmas/New Years. Now she gives it to us as gifts every Christmas. To me New Years Eve just isn't the same without some Caponata on the antipasto tray!

11/4 cups quality red wine vinegar
2 1/2 pounds eggplant
1/2 cup olives (green or black)
1-2 tablespoons capers
1 bunch celery diced (My Mom always uses white celery)
1 Spanish onion diced
3 ounce can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
salt & pepper to taste
Olive Oil for frying
Sterilize your jars & lids (I use the dishwasher) and set up a large pot of water for canning.
Set 2 saute pans up with 1/4  olive oil and the second with 3/4 cups olive oil.
Slice the eggplant leaving the skin on. Salt the eggplant and place in a colander with a heavy pot on top in the sink to allow some of the brown water to be released, this takes 30 minutes.
Rinse each piece off removing all the salt and dry well with paper towels.
Dice the eggplant into bite size pieces.
Fry eggplants in the first pan till golden brown.
Dice the celery and fry in same oil and discard this oil if any is left.
Saute onion in the second pan till it changes color.
Dilute tomato paste with a little warm water. Stir into the onion. Taste for salt and season if necessary, cook for 15 minutes.
Stir in the sugar, vinegar, capers, olives, eggplants and celery. Taste to see of if it needs more sugar.
Sprinkle with plenty of freshly ground black pepper and salt if necessary (taste to see) and simmer for 10 minutes.
Pack into the clean, hot small canning jars.  Seal and process in water bath for 20 minutes.
Or you can just place in  plastic containers in the fridge without sealing for up to a few weeks.
Let the cans rest for at least a week before eating to mellow out, believe me this part is a must, if you eat it right away it will taste way too sour!

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