7 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb), cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 anchovy fillets
1 tbsp minced fresh oregano leaves
1/4 c raisins
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 tbsp pitted and minced black olives
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
Heat 1 tbsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the celery and cook until softened, with slightly browned edges, about 6 minutes. Transfer the celery to a large bowl and reserve. Return the pan to medium heat and add 4 tbsp oil. Heat the oil until shimmering, about 30 seconds. Add the eggplant and stir to coat (do not add any more oil to pan). Cook until the eggplant is soft, with slightly browned edges, about 6 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the bowl with the celery.
Return the pan to medium heat, add the remaining 2 tbsp oil and heat until shimmering, about 10 seconds. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red bell pepper, cover, and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Remove the cover, stir in the anchovies, oregano, and raisins and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and their juices as well as the reserved celery and eggplant and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook until the flavors blend, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the basil, capers, olives, vinegar and sugar. Transfer the caponata to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
You'll never taste the anchovies - I promise. They melt into the dish completely and add another layer of complexity. But if you're vegetarian or just completely anti-anchovy, leave them out. The dish will still be great.
Pairs Well With
A classic Sicilian dish, this version comes from - where else - Cook's Illustrated. It's very savory and pungent, and is great hot or cold. Traditionally it's served at room temperature as a relish for grilled fish, but it does well on its own as a salad or a side dish.