Caponata

Keeping the vegetables in this meal in larger chunks allows each element to retain its own identity while remaining a part of the whole. It employs thin aubergines — as the slenderer and harder they are, the fewer seeds they contain — and unpitted olives, so be sure to tell your visitors about the pits!

Servings 8

Ingredients

4 tablespoons plus more olive oil to serve

2 onions, sliced thinly

3 celery sticks, leaves included, trimmed to 4cm (112 inches) lengths

1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly crushed with the heel of a knife

50g (1.7oz) pine nuts

40g (1.4oz) capers

50g (1.7oz) raisins

1 tbsp vegan honey

4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

8 tomatoes, peeled and diced

3 firm, thin aubergines, halved and diagonally sliced lengthwise

4 courgettes sliced into 4cm (112 inches) pieces or 12 baby courgettes intact.

180g (6oz) green olives (not pitted)

Sea salt flakes

How to prepare it

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 5 degrees Celsius/Fahrenheit. In a deep pan over medium heat, heat the oil and add the onions and celery. Cook for 10 minutes, or until they have softened and begun to brown. Add the cloves of garlic, followed by the pine nuts, capers, and raisins. Stir for a few moments until the pine nuts are lightly toasted, before adding the honey and then the vinegar. The tomatoes are then added and cooked for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, drizzle the aubergines with oil and a pinch of salt, set them on a baking sheet, and roast them in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning them regularly, until they are golden but still retain their shape. Set aside.

Once the sauce has begun to somewhat thicken, add the courgettes and whisk to incorporate them. Cook for an additional 15 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes, have formed a sauce and the courgettes have softened. Add the eggplant. Stir to integrate, then simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until the veggies are tender, well-coated with sauce, but still retaining their shape. Once a stew-like consistency is achieved, remove the dish from the heat, toss in the olives, and allow it to rest. The longer caponata rests, the more flavorful it becomes. Adjust the seasonings as necessary. Depending on your mood and intended usage for the caponata, serve it naked as a side dish or on its own with a piece of good bread and a drizzle of olive oil.

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