1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 large), diced
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, from the tender inner stalks, diced fine
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced fine
2 tbsp. raisins, chopped fine
1 -2 ripe tomatoes, preferably Romas, peeled, seeded and finely chopped,
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes (in puree)
1-2 tsp. sugar (optional)
2 heaped tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained, and chopped
3 tbsp. coarsely chopped pitted green olives, chopped
2 tbsp. Pine nuts, roasted and chopped
3 tbsp. red wine vinegar, or sherry vinegar (more to taste)
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
½ jalapeno, diced fine (optional)
Prepare eggplant, cut into ½ slices place in large bowl of generously salted water and weight down with a plate. Let eggplant soak for 20-30 minutes. Water will turn black in color. Remove eggplant from water and pat dry with paper towels. Dice into smaller pieces, set aside.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil in deep heavy nonstick skillet over medium to high heat. When pan is ready add the diced eggplant. Fry the in 2-3 batches over medium heat, depending on the size of your pan, for approximately 10 minutes or until soft and golden. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add the tomatoes to the pan with a pinch of sugar. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan often, for five to 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant. Add the capers, olives, pine nuts, remaining sugar and vinegar. You can also add the jalapeno here. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes, until the vegetables are thoroughly tender and the mixture is quite thick, sweet and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature. If possible, cover and chill overnight. Serve at room temperature.
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