Eggplant Caponata

2 pounds eggplant

¼ cup olive oil

2 cups celery, chopped into ¼-inch pieces

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

⅓ cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 cups canned plum tomatoes, crushed

1 7-ounce can tomato paste

2 tablespoons pickled capers

8 large pitted green olives, drained and sliced

4 or 5 anchovy filets in oil, cut in half

¼ cup golden raisins

½ cup pine nuts, toasted in a pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place foil or parchment paper on a large baking sheet. Peel and slice the eggplant into 1-inch thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with olive oil, lightly salt, and set on baking sheet. Place eggplant on the center rack of oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, turning half way, until golden brown on each side and still slightly firm. Let cool and chop into one inch cubes.

Heat a large pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and celery for about 15 minutes, until tender. Add the eggplant and ingredients up to and including the anchovy filets. Cover. Bring to a slow boil and simmer for 20 minutes, or until tender. Stir in the raisins, pine nuts and salt and pepper for taste.

Cook's note: This versatile Italian relish can be served as an antipasto on sliced bread with a sprinkle of Italian grated cheese. It can be used as a pasta sauce, adding shrimp sautéed with garlic in olive oil if you like. It keeps for 2 weeks sealed in the refrigerator. You will always be ready to wow your guests with this unexpected flavor combination.

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