Begin preparing the CAPONATA by cutting both ends off the eggplant using a sharp serrated knife.
Next cut each eggplant into thick slices, and finally cube every slice. Place the eggplant cubes into a colander, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and mix thoroughly.
Place the colander on top of a bowl. Cover the eggplant cubes with an upside down plate and place a second bowl filled with water on top of the plate. The weight of the bowl pressing on the eggplant will cause to draw the bitter liquid out of the cubes. Let sit for about one hour. You will notice that a brown liquid will collect in the bottom of the bowl. Eliminate the bitter liquid.
Wash the 5 stalks of celery and dice each into 1/2 inch pieces. Place a pot on top of the wood-fired stove top, and drop the celery into boiling water for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the celery and place it on a clean kitchen towel to dry.
Drizzle some olive oil into a frying pan and sauté the celery.
Slice the onions into thin, even slices. Place the sliced onions in a frying pan on the wood-fired stove top at medium heat until translucent and slightly caramelized. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the onions.
Next, add the capers, olives and pine nuts to the onions in the frying pan. Stir all ingredients and let simmer for 5 minutes.
Cube 5 ripe, fresh tomatoes and add them to the the frying pan with the onions, capers, pine nuts and olives. Simmer for 10 minutes or until tomato cubes have broken down.
Remove the eggplant cubes from the colander and rinse thoroughly in order to eliminate excess salt. Once rinsed, place them on a clean kitchen towel and squeeze to remove excess water.
Place an additional frying pan on the wood-fired stove top and heat up enough peanut oil (or frying oil of your choosing) and begin frying the eggplant cubes.
While the eggplant is frying, add the celery to the tomato sauce mixture. Continue to gently simmer.
Remove the fried eggplant and place it on paper towels to remove excess oil.
Add the fried eggplant to the tomato sauce mixture in the frying pan and continue to simmer. As all the flavors dance together, it is finally time to add the sugar, vinegar and basil to the Caponata. Simmer a while longer to soften the intense smell of the vinegar.
You are now ready to serve the Caponata either hot or even cold. It is delicious when accompanied by a slice of fresh baked, crunchy bread. Enjoy!