Rick and I enjoyed this dish in Sicily last summer, while we were doing the research for the Sicily bicycle tour that we will first offer in 2004. The following recipe is taken, with some editing, from the book The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop (1997). Thanks to Margay, Elaine and Marilyn we can all enjoy this recipe.
Heat one quarter cup of oil in a large pan. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the bell pepper and a pinch of salt and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepper starts to soften.
Add the tomatoes and oregano and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture thickens somewhat or about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Heat another 1/4 cup of oil in a large skillet. Add the celery and sauté medium heat until it starts to soften. With a slotted spoon transfer the celery to the pan with the tomato mixture. Add the remaining one quarter cup oil and add the eggplant and cook, stirring considerably. If the eggplant starts to burn, lower the heat but do not add more oil. Scrape the eggplant into the pan with the other ingredients.
Place the pan over medium-low heat, cover and simmer stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Uncover the pan and stir in the olives, capers, vinegar and sugar. Simmer 1-2 minutes to blend the flavors. Adjust the seasonings. Serve at room temperature or slightly cooled.