1 kg eggplant
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup olive oil
2 stalks celery, cut into small dice
1 large onion, cut into small dice
3 peppers – red, green, yellow, cut into small dice
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
1/2 kg ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled and cut up
1 cup pitted green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plump sultanas
3 large basil leaves, shredded
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 tablespoons tiny capers, drained
Dice the eggplant without peeling, sprinkle with salt and set aside in a colander to drain some of its liquid. I usually put a plate on top of the pieces and weigh it down with a weight.
Heat some of the oil in a large frypan, add celery, onion, peppers, garlic and carrot and cook, uncovered until soft but not coloured. Transfer vegetables to a shallow baking dish, but retain the oil. You may need to add a little more oil from time to time.
Dry the eggplant with paper towel then add to the frypan in batches. Fry until lightly golden. Add to the fried vegetables. In the oil that remains, mash the anchovies to a paste, off the heat. Add to baking dish with vegetables. Now, add tomatoes, green olives, vinegar, sultanas, basil and parsley and cook in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven, add capers, and mix well. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. You should aim for a pleasant sweet and sour flavour. Serve warm as a side dish or cold as an appetizer, an antipasto, or even un primo. Since Salvo Montalbano rarely eats without an accompanying wine, I would suggest a cheeky carricante varietal from the slopes of Mt. Etna.