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Caponata (Italian Eggplant Dip or Spread)

Serves 6 to 8, more as part of a buffet

Caponata is traditionally served as an appetizer or party food dip with toasted pita triangles. But it makes a great sandwich with some provolone cheese melted on top. I have also used it as a sauce for pasta. Leftovers, if there are any, can be added to soup recipes.

Ingredients

Brush eggplant with olive oil. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add eggplant in batches and sauté until golden. Remove from skillet, drain on paper towels if necessary, and set aside.

Add a thin film of olive oil to same skillet and sauté onion, celery, garlic and pine nuts, tossing lightly. Reduce heat to medium and add olives, tomatoes, capers, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper; cook briefly over medium heat. Add eggplant and simmer until eggplant is tender. Cool to room temperature before serving. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Meanwhile, toast pita triangles in a preheated 350° F oven until slightly crisp. Serve with the caponata.