Cookbook club this week features chocolate and whilst the majority of dishes brought by members will doubtless be sweet I wanted to balance the evening by making this Sicilian dish, Capanata cooked by every island housewife. If you call into to visit a family in their home you will be offered a drink, often of a sweetish wine, and a spoonful of capanata. I’ve been making this recipe for many years and it stands out for me as it has some bitter chocolate stirred in at the end. This thickens and softens the sauce that coats the vegetables. I think I was told at the time that I first made it that the addition of chocolate was an African idea but as cooks in Sicily take their recipes from a host of both Mediterranean and European cuisines this may not be the case.
When staying in Sicily recently I asked my hostess’s cook if she added chocolate to her Capanata and was laughed out of the kitchen!