Everyone's mother always has a favorite recipe that is appropriate for all occasions. My mother's is an eggplant mixture called caponata.
You can use caponata as a dip, sandwich filling with mozzarella or Provolone cheese on top and then baked, or as a pizza topping, omelet filling or pasta sauce.
Makes 6 servings
2 medium unpeeled eggplants, washed and cut into 1/2 -inch dice (2 1/2 pounds total)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, for soaking
3 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (3-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons natural (unbleached) sugar crystals or sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 cup green olives stuffed with pimentos, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes, optional
salt, to taste
Place eggplant in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle with kosher salt. Let eggplant sit for about 1 hour to remove any bitter flavor. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with paper towels.
In a large nonreactive skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the eggplant and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until eggplant softens. Add the onions, celery and garlic and saute 3 minutes.
Dilute the tomato paste with warm water and pour over the sauteed vegetables. Simmer 15 minutes. Add the sugar, vinegar, capers, olives, black pepper and dried red chili flakes if a spicier version is desired; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from heat, let cool and then transfer to a nonreactive container, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Nutrition per serving: 128 calories, 2 grams protein, 9 grams fat, 13 grams carbohydrates, no cholesterol, 756 milligrams sodium, 60 percent calories from fat.)