This is my version of the traditional Sicilian aubergine and vegetable stew. Typical serve as a warm side dish or served cold as an antipasto which means it keeps really well if you want to make a big batch and serve it across several meals. This is such a delicious dish packed full of so many flavours, leave it overnight and it only gets better! I’ve used dates instead of adding refined sugar and if anything it only improves the dish, adding raisins is also an option.
Preparation Time – 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time – 35-40 minutes
3 Medium sized aubergines/eggplant – Roughly diced
7 Cloves of garlic – Keep 5 in their skin
3-4 Good glugs of rapeseed oil
Generous sprinkle of sea salt & black & white pepper
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion – Diced
3 Stalks of celery
1 red pepper – Center removed plus seeds and roughly chopped into chunks
5 Medjool dates- Stones removed and roughly torn
2 Tbsp Tomato puree
2 Generous glugs of red wine vinegar
Splash of water
50g / Handful of black olives – Stones removes, roughly chopped (if using the Crespo saltier version include less salt when seasoning)
40g Capers – Roughly chopped
Generous handful of parsley – Roughly chopped
Generous handful of basil – Roughly chopped
Small handful of pine nuts – Lightly toasted
Begin by preheating your oven to 200 degrees Celsius then add the roughly chopped aubergine plus 5 cloves of garlic (still in their skin) to a baking tray with a generous glug of rapeseed oil, coating all sides and season. Roast until they soften and start to darken around the edges, this should take around 12-15 minutes.
In a large pan over a medium heat add a glug of olive oil plus the diced onion, celery, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed and roughly chopped), the chopped red pepper and torn dates. Sweat for 5-6 minutes until the vegetables soften and begin to caramalise, next add in the tomato puree, red wine vinegar, olives and a splash of water plus a good sprinkle of black and white pepper, cover with a lid and allow to cook over a medium to low heat adding additional water if necessary. Once the aubergine is ready add to the pan with everything else and mix thoroughly. Cover again and cook for another 5 or so minutes then add in half the chopped parsley, capers and basil. Stir thoroughly, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl or spread a generous layer over toasted sourdough and sprinkle over the remaining capers, basil and parsley along with the lightly toasted pine nuts and one final drizzle of olive oil or extra virgin olive oil if you have it.