This is an all vegetable dish that is just delicious. It comes from Sicily and has an amazing sweet and sour flavour. It’s so good that it’s great on its own or as an accompaniment to more strongly flavoured meats. It also works brilliantly with pasta or rice.
1 large aubergine (about 500g), cut into 2cm pieces
1 large courgette, cut into 2cm pieces
Vegetable or sunflower oil, to fry
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
2 celery sticks, cut into 2cm dice
1½ tsp smoked chipotle flakes
large tim chopped tomatoes
40g green olives, stoned and halved
1 tbsp brown sugar
75 ml red wine vinegar
40g toasted almonds or pine nuts
Small bunch of mint, leaves roughly chopped
Salt the diced aubergine and courgette and put them in a colander over a sink and leave for an hour.
Take the aubergine and courgette and pat dry. Meanwhile put the oil in a deep pan and heat. Test the temp by putting a corner of a piece of aubergine in the oil and it should start to fry; if not get the oil hotter. Cook the courgette and aubergine in batches and drain on kitchen roll. Now, I don’t always fry the aubergine and courgette if I’m in a hurry but it does taste better if you do.
Heat the olive oil in a large, wide pan (for which you have a lid) over a medium-low heat; fry the onion and celery with a lttle of salt until soft and beginning to colour, then stir in the smoked chipotle, if. Fry for another minute, then add the chopped tomatoes and fry for another couple of minutes.
Stir in the capers, olives, sultanas, sugar, and vinegar and bring to the boil, then add the fried aubergines and courgettes. Season, turn the heat right down, cover and simmer gently for an hour, checking towards the end of cooking and turning off the heat if it seems to be drying out.
Traditionally this is then left to cool to room temperature before serving but that is nonsense. Toast the almonds in a dry frying pan, then add them, along with the roughly chopped mint, just before you serve it.