Place the eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle them generouslywith salt. Let stand at least half hour; rinse well under cold water,drain, and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat quarter cup oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.

Gradually add the eggplant, stirring constantly. Add more oil asneeded to keep the eggplant from sticking.

As soon as all the eggplant is in the pan, gradually add the garlic,onion and celery. Cook until hot through but not browned, keepingthe heat as high as possible. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves,vinegar, capers, and olives. Mix well and lower the heat to simmer.

Cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is tender andthe flavor is well developed.

Season the caponata with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar asneeded. Add basil leaves, nuts, and parsley. Serve hot, at roomtemperature, or chilled.

Variation: Add chopped anchovies, chunks of fish or shellfish, ham,italian sausage, or other cooked meat to the vegetables in the lastfew minutes of cooking time.