Aubergine and Tomato Stew

This luscious stew is distantly related to caponata but instead of red peppers it’s made with canned chopped tomatoes. Gently softened red onion, garlic and a decent seasoning of dried chilli flakes and cumin tune up the flavours but the last minute addition of capers, pine kernels and chopped green olives ensure every mouthful sets the taste buds alive. It is the sort of dish that improves in the fridge, meaning that leftovers are even more delicious the next day. I like it hot with new potatoes and green beans or stirred into pasta but this versatile stew could be piled into an omelette or pastry turnover. It is also exceptionally good topped by a soft-boiled or poached egg. Serve it hot, warm or cold. 

Serves 4

Prep: 35 min

Cook: 60 min

2 firm aubergine, approx 600g in total

1 tbsp salt

1 large onion, approx 300g

3 tbsp olive oil

½ (half) tsp dried chilli flakes

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp ground cumin

400g can chopped tomatoes

50g pitted green olives

1 tbsp capers

2 tbsp toasted pine kernels

1 lemon

  Quarter the aubergine lengthways. Halve the pieces lengthways and then chop into bite-size chunks. Place half in a colander, sprinkle with ½ (half) tbsp salt. Add the rest and sprinkle with remaining salt. Leave while you halve, peel and finely chop the onion. Heat the oil in a spacious, lidded frying/saute pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, stirring often, until slippery soft and golden. Peel and chop the garlic, crush to a paste with a generous pinch salt and add to the pan with the chilli. Rinse the aubergine, pat dry and stir into the onion. Cook, stirring constantly for 10-15 minutes as it turns glossy and shrinks slightly. Add the tomato, fill the can with water and add that too. Simmer, stirring regularly, for a few minutes, cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the aubergine is tender. Coarsely chop the olives and add to the pan with the capers and pine kernels. Check the seasoning, adding salt, pepper and lemon juice.