This eggplant caponata recipe is the queen of Sicilian dishes, encapsulating the richness, history and aromas of Sicilian culture.
A delicious appetizer or side dish that can also be considered a main dish, unfailingly accompanied by bread.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
This traditional Sicilian recipe features a flavorful combination of fresh vegetables all cooked in a sweet and sour sauce.
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: Its a great make-ahead dish and it tastes even better the next day.
Super tasty: The sweet and sour taste given by the vinegar and sugar is something delightful and give to the dish a unique flavor!
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.
Tomatoes: I use cherry tomatoes for this family recipe; how my mom makes it. I love their sweet flavor.
But you can also use any tomato sauce or even tomato paste.
Olives: For the preparation of eggplant caponata, I used green olives, but if you only have black olives, they’re okay to use.
Capers: They give the caponata a slightly salty flavor.
Onion & celery: White or a large red onion is perfect for this homemade caponata.
Pine nuts: The crunch that makes this caponata special.
Sugar and vinegar: You can use white wine vinegar or red wine vinegar.
Gives the dish an unique sweet-and-sour taste.
Extra-virgin olive oil: The oil blends all the flavors together.
Salt, black pepper and basil: To 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.
Cut them into cubes and place eggplant cubes 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-high heat, toast the pine nuts until lightly browned and fragrant.
Cooking eggplant : After washing to remove excess salt and drying well, cook the eggplant.
There are several ways to cook eggplant.
The original recipe says to fry them in oil, but I used the air fryer for this recipe.
You can fry in sunflower oil or make roasted eggplant in the oven.
Prepare the caponata: Gently soften the chopped onion in a large skillet with olive oil.
Add the desalted capers, olives and chop celery and cook a few more minutes.
At this point add the cherry tomatoes cut in half and a few basil leaves.
Cook everything at medium-low heat for about 7 to 8 minutes and then add the cooked 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 lots of fresh basil and mix well and let cool.
Tips For An Authentic Caponata
- Use fresh ingredients, yo make a tasty and wholesome caponata, it is important to use the freshest vegetables, which should be cut into uniformly sized cubes to ensure even cooking.
- Cook one ingredient at a time and only at the end combine them all to blend the flavors.
- Purge the eggplant, this is a step I always do when cooking eggplant, this helps remove the bitterness of the eggplant.
How to Serve Caponata
Caponata is a versatile dish that can be served in many different ways.
Traditionally, it is served as a side dish or appetizer, either room temperature or cold. It is served as a topping for crusty bread or bruschetta, I personally like to serve it with homemade focaccia.
Some people even enjoy caponata as a main course, served over pasta or rice.
The version of caponata I have presented here is the most classic one, but there are many variations of it.
Below are some of the most popular ones with the addition of different ingredients depending on the place of origin.
- Add red bell peppers and potatoes: This is the Palermo version, richer than the classic but super delicious.
- Add carrots and almonds: The version from Trapani.
- Fish caponata: Simply add diced and browned swordfish. It is a very famous version in Sicily.
- Make it spicy: Add some red pepper flakes for a tangy flavors.
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.
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!
Sicilian Caponata and French Ratatouille are often confused with each other.
In fact, the two dishes are vegetable-based and have a very similar method of cooking in olive oil; some say that caponata is a Sicilian version of ratatouille, but the sweet and sour of vinegar and sugar make the taste of caponata different from that of ratatouille.
Eggplant caponata is a typical side dish of Sicilian cuisine.
It is good in both cases.
But to enjoy it best, let it cool for a couple of hours before eating it.
Yes, caponata is typically vegan as it does not contain any animal products.
Eggplant Caponata Recipe
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.
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- 2 Big Eggplants
- Salt to taste and purge the eggplant
- 3 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 White onion
- 1 tablespoon of Capers
- 15 Green Olives
- 1-2 Celery sticks
- 20 Cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 1/4 cup White vinegar
- 2 tablespoons (30g) Pine nuts
- Few basil leaves
- Black pepper
- 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.
- Prepare the vegetables for the caponata preparation.
- Chop the onions and celery. Remove the pips of the olives and wash the salted capers under running water.
- Toast the pine nuts in a pan over medium heat, stir often, and toast them for about 5 minutes.
- 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.
- Cook the eggplant:
- FRIED IN OIL: Fry eggplant in olive oil or peanut seed oil at 370°F. When golden brown, drain on paper towel.
- 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.
- When the eggplants are ready, set aside.
- In a large pan, pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and wilt the onion over medium heat for about 4 minutes.
- Add the capers, green olives, and celery.
- At this point add the cherry tomatoes, which we previously cut in half, and 3 basil leaves
- Cook the whole thing for about 8 minutes on low heat
- Add the eggplant that we previously cooked, and mix well.
- Add the vinegar and sugar and toss for 3 minutes on high heat to evaporate the vinegar.
- Lastly, add the toasted pine nuts and some basil leaves and mix well.
- Adjust salt and black pepper if needed.
- Let the caponata cool and serve with bread.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 256Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 279mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 9gSugar: 14gProtein: 5g
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.
Fridge: You can store eggplant caponata in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Freezer: All you have to do is put the caponata in an airtight container and store it in the freezer, for up to 3 months.
When you want to eat some caponata, let it thaw at room temperature.
IF YOU LIKE THIS RECIPE YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
- Pasta Alla Norma Recipe, a delicious pasta with eggplant.
- Italian Potato Salad, another delicious Italian-style side dish.
- Pickled Eggplant Recipe, a recipe with eggplant that I’m sure you’ll love.