Tomatoey caponata is the Italian answer to French ratatouille. As well as being a great topping for crostini, it can also be made as a side dish and would go well with turkey or a roasted fish. It can be served warm or cold, and keeps well in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Caponata and Crostini
- Preparation time: 20 minutes
- Cooking time: 20 minutes to 25 minutes
- Total time: 40 minutes to 45 minutes
- 2 large aubergines, cut into 2cm cubes
- 4 plum tomatoes
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 celery sticks, sliced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 2 large courgettes, in 1cm-thick rounds
- 50g pine nuts, toasted
- 50g capers, rinsed
- 50g green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 15g basil leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 baguette, cut into 1cm-thick slices
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas 3. For the crostini, arrange the bread on a baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the slices are golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.
- Put the aubergine in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 10–15 minutes to release the juices. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes. Make a small incision with a sharp knife in the top of each one. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the tomatoes for 10 seconds. Peel, quarter and deseed the tomatoes, then cut each quarter lengthways into three pieces. Rinse and pat dry the aubergine with kitchen paper. Heat 6 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan over a fairly high heat and fry the aubergine in 2 batches until golden brown; it should sizzle but not burn. (If the oil is too cool, it will soak into the flesh.)
- Transfer the cooked pieces to a colander so that any excess oil drips out. Wipe the pan and heat the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil in it over a medium heat. Add the onion and celery and sauté for 4–6 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the red pepper and cook for 3 minutes, followed by the courgettes for a further 2–3 minutes. Now add the aubergine and tomato and cook for another 2–3 minutes, still stirring. All the vegetables should be tender and heated through, but not sludgy and soft. Finally, stir in the pine nuts, capers and olives, season well and add the basil. Spoon the mixture on to the crostini and serve.