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1 medium eggplant - -- (abt 1 1/4 lbs), cut into 3/4" cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt -- divided
2 medium carrots -- cut 1/2" thk rounds
1 medium celery ribs -- cut 1/2" thk slices
1 medium onion -- chopped
2 medium zucchini -- cut 1/2" thk rounds
2 garlic cloves -- minced
15 ounces peeled Italian tomatoes - -- (1 can), drained and chopped
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup Mediterranean black olives -- (calamata), pitted and chopped

In a large colander, toss the eggplant cubes with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Let stand about 1 hour. Rinse the eggplant cubes well under cold running water and drain.

In a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker, layer the vegetables in the following order; eggplant, carrots, celery, onion, zucchini, and garlic. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, water, olive oil, tomato paste, vinegar, sugar, basil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and the crushed pepper. Add to the vegetables, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 7 hours on low (200 degrees). During the last hour of cooking, increase the heat to high (300 degrees) and uncover to evaporate the excess liquid.

Cool the caponata to room temperature. Stir in the capers and olives. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mellow.

Bring the caponata to room temperature before serving. This recipe yields 6 cups.

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