Caponata is one of the most typical dish from Sicily and, at the very same time, the most debated: from east to west, many are the variants, so much so that there is a stunning number of 37 codified versions. Getting back to the origins of this famous delicacy is a difficult quest: the etymology of the word dates back to latin and to the cauponiae, the tavern where sailors used to gather and eat cold disse after their long journeys; one of these dishes consisted of crackers or hardtacks dunked into seawater and seasoned with olives, capers and some boiled vegetable. A more popular and widespread tradition binds – instead- caponata with the gurnard, a fish locally known as lampuga: cooked in casserole with sweetsour sauce, it was a dish much loved by the local aristocracy; the people, on the other hand, not having the money to eat fish, used aubergines as a substitute.
The recipe provided below is the caponata with aubergines and peppers and is to be matched to Pretiosa white wines, as suggested by Cantine Gulino.
Ingredients for 8/10 people:
- 10 aubergines
- 6 peppers
- 1 big celery
- 1 onion
- 300gr green olives
- 3tbsp salted or pickled capers
- 1,5l fresh tomatoes sauce
- 1 glass of vinegar
- 2tbsp of sugar
- extra virgin olive oil
Fry in a large pan the sautée, to be added then to the fresh tomato, with olive oil, onion and celery; then add the capers, the pitted olives and the fresh tomato sauce.
Wash the aubergines and chop them; fry them in extra virgin olive oil and save them for what will be used as the presentation dish. Wash the peppers, chop them finely and fry them in the same pan used for the aubergines. Add the fried vegetables to the sauce while cooking, stir vigorously and constantly while getting prepared to the magic moment of the sweetsour.
Sweetsourness of Sicilian caponata: the scientific way
Drop two tablespoons of sugar into a glass of vinegar. Adjust according to the degree of sweetness or acidity desired.
Sweetsourness of Sicilian caponata: the “nostalgic” way
It was very unlikely for Sicilian women to rely onto measurable quantities os sugar and vinegar in order to obtain the sweetsour note of caponata. They trusted their experience: a handful of sugar, a splash of vinegar. Obviously it was the taste immediately after to determine adjustments or not.