Sweet and sour eggplant stew with pears

Ingredients for four people:
1 ½ Lb./600 grams dark skinned eggplant/aubergine, chopped into 1”/3 cm cubes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 celery stalks (1 ½ cups), cut into 2 cm dice
2 onions ( 2 cups), coarsely chopped
3 tbs/40 gms capers cured in salt, thoroughly rinsed
¾ cup/100 gms green olives in brine, rinsed, pitted and chopped in halves
¾ Cup/2 pears, cut in quarters
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoon sugar, depending on sourness
1/2 cup tomato sauce
8 fresh mint leaves, optional

Arrange the eggplant/aubergine in a large bowl of water with a spoonful of sea salt and let sit for about 20 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a kitchen cloth.

Heat the olive oil in a deep, medium sized frying pan over medium-high heat. When the olive oil begins to sizzle, add a single layer of eggplant/aubergine cubes and fry, turning once until they reach an intense golden colour, about 5 to 7 minutes. Bring heat down, if olive oil is too hot, to avoid burning.
When eggplant/aubergine is cooked, transfer to a colander set over a plate to drain off any excess olive oil. Cook all eggplant/aubergine this way.

Cook the celery in hot boiling water until partially cooked.

In a similar sized skillet, warm 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and stir fry the onions and celery over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Now add the pears, capers and olives.
Allow flavours to mix for a couple of minutes and stir in the tomato sauce and the eggplant/aubergine.
In a cup mix the sugar with the vinegar until dissolved and pour over the vegetables. Let it evaporate over high heat for a couple of minutes and switch off.

Pour over a serving dish and leave to rest for at least 12 hours.

Top with mint leaves before serving.


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