This semi raw vegan version of Sicilian eggplant caponata combines whole roasted eggplant with briefly dehydrated vegetables. It retains the sweet sour punch of agrodolce preparation with more freshness and much less oil.
Cook the eggplant over the grill or direct flame. Use a pair of tongs to turn the eggplant periodically during cooking until the eggplant is soft on the inside and blackened on the outside. This takes about 10 minutes, depending on the size of your eggplant. Once cooked, wrap the eggplant in a kitchen towel or covered bowl and let it rest until cool enough to handle. This helps soften the eggplant skin and so it will be easy to peel off. Dice the eggplant to 2 cm (1 inch) cubes and set aside in a bowl.
Prepare the vegetables in equal size. Cut the bell pepper and celery to 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) pieces. Prepare the tomato concasse: peel the tomatoes and dice to 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) pieces. Spread the vegetables and onion on a dehydrator sheet and dehydrate at 46°C (115°F) for 45 minutes, or until slightly soft.
In a blender, combine half of the dehydrated vegetables, rehydrated sundried tomato, vinegar, and cacao and chilli powder if using. Blend on high speed until smooth. If you like, you can pass the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer to obtain a very smooth sauce.
Prepare the caponata. In a large bowl, combine the diced eggplant, currants, olives, and capers. Stir in the sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. It should be slightly sweet, salty and sharp from the vinegar. (I like a bit of spice from chilli.) Adjust the seasonings and when you are satisfied with the taste, transfer the caponata into an airtight container and store in refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Serve caponata at room temperature as a side dish or topping on your favourite bread, toast, or pizza. Garnish with pine nuts and fresh parsley just before serving.