Recipe: Sciaki Sciuka

Sciaki Sciuka (pronounced shah-key shoo-kah) appears in restaurants and on home tables across Pantelleria. When I visited in September, I ate sciaki sciuka almost every day. Like all dishes that originated at home, each version was a little different. Some were served hot, others cold. One dish was served family-style with diced hard boiled egg on top, another was carefully molded into individual portions on fancy plates with fresh herbs for garnishes. What remained the same, though, were the vegetables — especially the fantastic capers.

2 tablespoons salt-packed capers
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 lb potatoes, cut in ¾” dice
1 large eggplant, cut in ¾” dice
3-4 bells peppers, diced
1 lb fresh tomatoes, or 1 14-oz can of tomatoes
½ teaspoon oregano
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Set the capers in a small bowl of water to soak to remove some of the saltiness.

In a large frying pan over medium heat, saute the diced onion in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, when the onion is starting to turn translucent, add the rest of the olive oil and the potatoes to the pan. Cook for five minutes, stirring once or twice, then add the eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, sea salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat, stirring every few minutes, until the eggplant and potatoes are cooked through. If the pan becomes dry and the vegetables start sticking, add a tablespoon or two of the caper soaking water or regular water.

When the potatoes are cooked, turn off the heat. Drain the capers from any remaining water, and add them to the pan. Stir once to mix everything together.

The sciaki sciuka is ready to eat right away, or will keep a few days in the fridge. Serve hot or cold, with crusty bread for sopping up any juices.

Serves 3-4 as a main course, or 8-10 as a side dish