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This is vegetarian Italian food at its best! Veggies - are you sick of being served the same old dishes? Beetroot and goat's cheese...butternut squash risotto....a depressing, shrivelled roasted mushroom?! Well then, we've got just the thing for you! Caponata is sweet, zingy, meaty and completely delicious. It's dearly loved in Italy and the dish dates back as far as the 1700s. If you've never made it, then don't hesitate. Now is the time! We love eating Caponata on some good toasted bread with a little fresh ricotta on top. Perfect for a light meal or as a starter. Unbeatable recipe below - you're welcome, friends of CED!

Makes enough for at least 6 starter/side portions

  • 4 large aubergines
  • 150g green olives without stones
  • 90g capers
  • 30g raisins, soaked for 10 minutes in a little warm water
  • 50g pine nuts or almonds, lightly toasted in a pan
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 sticks of celery, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh basil and/or oregano, to garnish.

1 First off, chop the aubergines into chunks, roughly 5cm cubed. Then put them in a colander and sprinkle with salt, tossing them well to make sure there’s a little salt over all the chunks. Leave for 30 mins (this will drain out excess water and get rid of bitterness).

2 While the aubergines are sitting with the salt, put the onion and celery in a deep pan with a good glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook on a medium heat for 5 mins, or until well softened. Add the sugar, vinegar, olives, capers, raisins, tomato, nuts and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until it has reduced a little into a thick sauce. Set aside.

3 Shake any access water from the aubergines and fry on a high heat with plenty of olive oil in large frying pan until golden. Add the aubergines to the sauce you made with the other ingredients and mix well. Taste and add more vinegar/sugar if it needs it, according to your taste. It should be sharp/sour yet the vinegariness should be well balanced by sweetness - if it’s too sharp, add more sugar, or vice versa. Cook gently for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool and serve with some crunchy bread garnished with fresh herbs.