Eggplant Caponata

Recipe from Debbie Carmichael, of Prairieville, is the first-place winner in the appetizers category of The Advocate’s Thanksgiving Recipe Contest sponsored by Calandro’s Supermarket.

2 large eggplants, peeled, cut into large cubes

3 cups chopped onions

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup olive oil

1 (8-oz.) can tomato sauce

1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 (6-oz.) can pitted black olives, cut in half (reserve ¾ cup olive juice)

½ cup pitted green olives, drained, cut in half

3 tbls. sugar

¼ cup capers

½ tsp. oregano

½ tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Soak eggplant cubes in lightly salted water for 20 minutes, then squeeze water from cubes.

2. Sauté onions and celery in olive oil. Cook on medium heat for 30 minutes. Do not burn; stir often. Stir in eggplant. Cover and cook 30 minutes, stirring often.

3. Add tomato sauce and paste. Cook 15 minutes. Stir in garlic, olives, ¾ cup reserved olive juice, sugar, capers, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook until thick, about 15 minutes.

4. Can be served warm or cold, with bread or crackers, as an appetizer or as a vegetable side dish.