This is a difficult-to-describe concoction: aubergines in a tomatoey, pickley kind of mixture – a sort of Italian slightly sour ratatouille. It makes a great addition to a series of dips for some pitta bread when nattering with friends and a few preprandial drinks.


serves: 4-6
preparation time: 20 mins
cooking time: 40 mins


  • 500g aubergine, peeled & diced (1cm)
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 100g celery, finely chopped
  • 50g onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbs wine vinegar mixed with 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 400g tomatoes, chopped (or 1 can plum tomatoes, drained)
  • 2 tsp tomato purée
  • 6 green olives, pitted & slivered
  • 1 tbs capers
  • 3 anchovy fillets, pounded smooth
  • 1 tbs pine kernels
  • Salt & pepper


If you feel the need, degorge the aubergine chunks in the traditional manner by sprinkling with salt and leaving to drain for 30 minutes. (Personally, I don’t find this necessary these days. I suspect the food engineers have been at the aubergines.)

Heat half the oil in a large, heavy frying pan. Add the celery and cook gently, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to soften (without colouring at this stage). Stir in the onions and cook for another 8-10 minutes to soften and for everything to become lightly coloured. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add the remaining olive oil, increase the heat and sauté the aubergine cubes, stirring and turning for about 8 minutes until they are lightly browned. You may need to add a little more olive oil. Return the onion and celery mixture to the pan and stir in the vinegar & sugar mixture, the tomatoes, tomato purée, green olive slivers, capers and anchovies. Season a little with salt and pepper being careful of the salt (due to the anchovies). Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes.

Stir in the pine kernels and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and vinegar (there should be a slight but not overpowering sourness).

Leave to cool before refrigerating until needed.

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