3 tablespoons good-quality olive oil
1 medium-to-large red onion, cut into ½-inch dice (1½ cups)
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1 large bulb fennel (fronds, stems and outer layer removed or reserved for another use), cored and cut into ½-inch dice (2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, cut into thin slices
1/3 cup good-quality sherry vinegar
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes in purée
8 dried Calmyrna figs, stemmed, then cut into ¼-inch dice
2½ tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
2 tablespoons drained capers
½ cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped, such as Cerignola
Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice from 1 orange (1 teaspoon zest and 1/3 cup juice)
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel, stirring to coat. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Stir in the vinegar, tomatoes, figs and brown sugar, stirring to coat everything with the tomatoes. Stir in the capers, olives, orange zest, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened.
Stir in the orange juice and parsley. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. The caponata should have an assertive flavor.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves six to eight (makes 7 cups).
Cook's notes: The caponata can be made several days in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.
Nutrition values per serving (based on 8): 120 calories, 6 g fat (1 g saturated), 16 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 1 g protein, 0 cholesterol, 460 mg sodium.
Adapted from "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust" by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, 2012)