In a large nonstick saute pan set over high heat, heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the olive oil. When the oil is very hot and glistening, fry half the eggplant cubes, tossing occasionally, until browned (about 7 minutes). Transfer to a large plate. Heat 2 tbsp (30 ml) of the remaining olive oil and fry the remaining eggplant cubes. Transfer to the plate with the first batch and reserve.
Lower the heat to medium and heat the remaining 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil to the same pan. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook 3 minutes more. Add the tomato paste mixed in water and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and 1/4 cup (60 ml) water and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
Stir in the olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and cocoa powder and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes (add 1/4 cup / 60 ml more water if the mixture seems too dry). Incorporate the reserved fried eggplant and cook 5 minutes more, until the caponata is nice and thick. Transfer to a large bowl, add the basil and pine nuts and toss to combine. Taste the Sicilian caponata and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Let cool to room temperature then store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight et let the flavors fully develop.
SERVING: Bring Sicilian caponata back to room temperature at least 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional pine nuts, chopped herbs, and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired. Serve with toasted baguette slices or crackers.
STORAGE: Keep Sicilian caponata refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
NOTE: To toast pine nuts, preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the pine nuts over a baking sheet and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, keeping a close eye on them at all times because pine nuts can burn very quickly.
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