This is a recipe from my Maltese roots. Although it’s probably best known as an Italian dish, it’s a popular aubergine accompaniment in Maltese homes too. My Mum would make a big batch of this and serve it up as a sidekick to grilled tuna or with barbequed meat. Recently, I’ve really enjoyed making a lunchtime meal out of it by adding some medium-hard boiled eggs, cooked and dressed asparagus and other leftovers such as this three beet roasted salad.
But the beautiful thing about kappunata is that once you’ve made a batch, just keep it in your fridge, for around three days, and the longer it marinates the tastier it gets and you can just add spoon-fulls to accompany various dishes. It’s also great stirred into pasta or just with some crackers or bread and some wine. That’s my favourite way to eat this, as an accompaniment to pre-dinner drinks – it’s a superb anti pasti.
My Mum and Maltese Nana didn’t use pine nuts in their recipe but I like the texture it adds. I also like to use good-quality pitted kalamata black olives but it’s really up to you what variety you use.
Although there’s some cooking required for kappunata, it’s a dish best served cold in a bowl garnished with basil. With plenty of sourdough bread on the side.
200g black kalamata olives
2 large sticks of celery
4 tbsp of passata
2 onions, finely sliced
125ml white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
handful of pine nuts (optional)
- Dice the aubergines and place in a bowl with salted water for about two hours. Meanwhile, clean the celery and blanch in salted water for five minutes
- Place the capers in a bow with hot water to draw out the salt and drain after a few minutes
- Fry the onion in a little oil for a couple of minutes and then add capers and the roughly chopped olives
- Add the tomato sauce (either homemade pasta sauce or a passata will do).
- Squeeze the aubergines, dry carefully and fry in another frying pan
- Fry the celery in the same pan and then place both the celery and aubergine in a saucepan with the sauce. Mix well and cook on a gentle heat for five minutes
- Add the sugar, vinegar and after a few minutes turn off the heat and cover with a lid.