Sicilian caponata is a tasty salad or relish made of eggplant with onions, celery, and tomatoes and augmented with tangy olives and capers. It's best the next day, so try to make it ahead and store it in the fridge in a tight-lid mason jar. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Season the eggplant cubes with salt (if you have the time, set it aside in a colander to sweat out its bitterness for about 20 or 30 minutes, while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Pat dry with paper towel).
Place the seasoned eggplant cubes on a sheet pan, add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 3 tablespoons or so) and toss to coat. Roast the eggplant in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until browned.
Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions, bell pepper, and celery. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, tossing regularly until softened.
Add the tomatoes, capers, olives, raisins, honey, bay leaf and crushed pepper flakes. Pour in the vinegar and white wine. Stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
Stir in the roasted eggplant and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes in the sauce. Finish with fresh parsley and mint.
Cook's Tip: Salting the eggplant and allowing it to sit for a few minutes helps it "sweat out" any bitterness and improves its spongy texture. a If you have the time, leave the salted eggplant in a colander for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
For best flavor: Let the caponata sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving, or store in the fridge overnight and serve cold or at room temperature. I like to serve it with toasted Italian bread such as ciabatta .
If serving with toasted ciabatta: Slice the bread and brush each slice with a bit of extra virgin olive oil on both sides. Arrange on a sheet pan and toast in your heated oven for about 10 minutes until golden brown (I do this while the eggplant is roasting).