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Eggplant Caponata Recipe: A Tasty Side Dish

Eggplant Caponata!

The queen of Sicilian dishes, encapsulating the richness, history and aromas of Sicilian culture.

An appetizer or side dish that can also be considered a main course, unfailingly accompanied by bread. 

Eggplant Caponata

What is Eggplant Caponata?

Eggplant Caponata is a typical Sicilian side dish – an eggplant dish, of course, with tomatoes, celery, onion, olives, and capers cooked in a sweet and sour sauce.

Why Is It Called Caponata?

The term caponata derives from the Spanish “caponada”.

Yet according to more “popular” rumors, the term is also derived from “capone”, the name by which lampuga, a fish with very valuable meat, is referred to on the island, which was prepared for the aristocratic class with an accompanying sweet-and-sour sauce just like that of caponata.

The working classes, in order to “imitate” the recipe replaced the lampuga with eggplant, whose price was affordable for them, and thus eggplant caponata was born!

Some of our other favorite eggplant recipes that we have on our site include the Breaded Eggplant Recipe, our authentic Sicilian Eggplant Parmesan Recipe and this amazing Air Fried Eggplant Rollatini.

Why This Recipe Is The Best

Easy to make: A super easy recipe to prepare. Takes a little time, but well worth it!

It can be prepared ahead of time: It tastes even better the next day.

Super tasty: The sweet and sour taste given by the vinegar and sugar is something delightful!

Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Sicilian eggplant caponata is not at all difficult to prepare.

It is also a very convenient dish that you can prepare in advance so you always have it on hand when you want to bring it to the table!

What Goes In The Eggplant Caponata

Eggplant: The ideal type of eggplant is the long violet.

This vegetable is very firm, and will hold up well to cooking while remaining intact.

Eggplant should be fried, but there are many ways to cook it, such as in the oven or in the air fryer. In the recipe card you will find .

Tomatoes: I use cherry tomatoes for this recipe;

I love their sweet flavor. But you can also use peeled tomatoes.

Olives: For the preparation of eggplant caponata, I used green olives, as per the family recipe.

Capers: They give the caponata a slightly salty flavor.

Onion & celery

Pine nuts: The crunch that makes caponata a special dish

Sugar and vinegar: Gives the dish an unique sweet-and-sour taste.

How To Make Caponata?

Salt the eggplant: This is a step I always do when cooking eggplant. This is to remove the bitter aftertaste that could compromise the flavor of the dishes. 

salt the eggplant

Cut them into cubes and place them in salt in a colander for a minimum of one hour.

Prepare the vegetables: Chop the onion and celery, pit the olives, and wash the capers under water if you are using salted capers.

Toast the pine nuts: In a skillet over medium heat, heat the pine nuts until lightly browned and fragrant.

Cooking eggplant: After washing to remove excess salt, and drying well cook eggplant. There are several ways to cook eggplant.

I used the air fryer for this recipe. 

Prepare the caponata: Gently soften the chopped onions in a pan with olive oil.

Add the desalted capers, pitted olives and celery and cook a few more minutes.

At this point add the cherry tomatoes cut in half and a few basil leaves. Cook everything for about 7 to 8 minutes and add the eggplant.

Toss with a small cup of vinegar in which you have dissolved a tablespoon of sugar and gently stir in your caponata.

Finally add the toasted pine nuts and mix well and let cool.

What Do You Eat Caponata With?

Caponata is considered a side dish. It can also be served as an appetizer, perfect served over bruschetta.

I personally like to serve it with homemade focaccia.

But also as a side dish with chicken cutlets, honey balsamic chicken and this easy air fryer chicken thighs.

Eggplant Caponata : Recipe Notes

Is this dish served warm or cold?

It is good in both cases.

But to enjoy it best, let it cool for a couple of hours before eating it.

Storage: How long will caponata keep in the fridge?

You can store eggplant caponata in a airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Can I freeze eggplant caponata? 


All you have to do is put the caponata in an airtight container and store it in the freezer.

When you want to eat some caponata, let it thaw at room temperature.

What part of Italy is caponata from?


Eggplant caponata is a typical Sicilian dish.


What’s the difference between caponata and ratatouille?

Sicilian Caponata and French Ratatouille are often confused with each other.

In fact, the two dishes are based on vegetables and have a very similar method of cooking in olive oil.

However, the sweet and sourness of vinegar and sugar, olives and capers highlight and differentiate the taste of caponata from that of ratatouille.



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Eggplant Caponata Recipe
Yield: 6 serving

Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Typically Sicilian, this eggplant caponata will delight you with its flavor!


  • 20 Cherry tomatoes
  • 15 Green Olives
  • 1 tablespoon of Capers
  • 1 Celery stick
  • 2 Eggplants
  • 1 White onion
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) Pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/4 cup White vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Few basil leaves


  1. First let's prepare the eggplant. Wash it and dry it. Cut it into cubes, then salt it and let it rest to let it lose its vegetable water. Do this for an hour or so.
  2. Prepare the vegetables for the caponata preparation.
  3. Chop the onions and celery. Remove the pips of the olives and wash the salted capers under running water.
  4. Toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat, stir often, and toast them for about 5 minutes.
  5. When the eggplant is ready, squeeze the eggplant pieces between your hands to remove as much water as possible and dry them with kitchen paper.
  6. Cook the eggplant:
    FRIED IN OIL: Fry eggplant in olive oil or peanut seed oil at 370°F. When golden brown, drain on paper towels.
    AIR FRIED: Place eggplant in a bowl and add two tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Transfer the eggplant to the basket of the air fryer and cook for 13 minutes at 180°C, shaking the basket occasionally.
    IN THE OVEN: Line a baking sheet with baking paper, arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Drizzle with a drizzle of oil and bake in a preheated 380° F ventilated oven for about 15-20 minutes, until well done.
  7. When the eggplants are ready, set aside.
  8. In a large pan, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and wilt the onion over medium heat for about 4 minutes.
  9. Add the capers, green olives, and celery.
  10. At this point add the cherry tomatoes, which we previously cut in half, and 3 basil leaves
  11. Cook the whole thing for about 8 minutes on low heat. Eggplant Caponata Recipe
  12. Add the eggplant that we previously cooked, and mix well.
  13. Add the vinegar and sugar and toss for 3 minutes on high heat to evaporate the vinegar.
  14. Last, add and toasted pine nuts and some basil leaves and mix well. Adjust salt if needed. Let the caponata cool and serve with bread.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 272mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 7gSugar: 11gProtein: 4g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Wednesday 14th of September 2022

Loved this caponata recipe! It's just what I was looking for. Thank you!


Wednesday 14th of September 2022

I've been off eggplant for years, and have just acquired a taste for it again, so I've been trying out new recipes! This was so good and I'm bookmarking it to make it again and again!


Wednesday 14th of September 2022

Looks like a delicious way to enjoy eggplant. A great side dish for lots of meals. I love Italian recipes.

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