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A simple Sicilian Caponata that comes togehter in under 30 minutes.

Caponata

Caponata is a delicious Sicilian eggplant salad with creamy caramelized eggplant, crisp celery and a savory sweet and sour flavor from the tomatoes and vinegar. Served as an antipasto with bread, or as a relish for fish and meat dishes, Caponata is an appetite inducing condiment that makes just about anything taste better.
Course Appetizer, Condiments & Pickles
Cuisine Italian
Level Beginner
Main Ingredient Vegetable
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Pescatarian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 small servings
Calories 105 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 380 grams eggplant (*see note, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 40 grams pine nuts (~1/4 cup)
  • 140 grams red onion (~1/2 onion, 1/2-inch dice)
  • 120 grams celery (~2 stalks, 1/4-inch dice)
  • 70 grams pitted green olives (~1/2 cup, sliced in half)
  • 30 grams capers in brine (~2 tablespoons, drained)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 50 grams raisins (~1/4 cup packed)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • salt
  • ground black pepper
  • flat-leaf parsley (chopped for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Add the olive oil to a pan and heat until hot, but not smoking.
  2. Add the pine nuts and fry until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the toasted pine nuts to a paper towel lined rack.
    Oil roasting the pinenuts for the Caponata first is not only foolproof, it saves time.
  3. Add the eggplant and fry, turning over several times until golden brown. Transfer the eggplant to the paper towel lined rack.
    Shallow frying the eggplant for the Caponata in olive oil ensures they're both flavorful and tender.
  4. Add the onions, and saute until they are tender and starting to brown.
    Caramelizing the onions gives our Caponata a sweet burst of umami.
  5. Add the celery, olives, and capers and saute until the celery starts turning translucent, but still crunchy.

    Adding the celery, olives, and capers to the Caponata towards the end, ensures they retain their individual taste and texture.
  6. Add the tomato paste and fry until shiny and fragrant.
    Caramelizing the tomato paste brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes in this Caponata.
  7. Finish the Caponata by adding the raisins, red wine vinegar and brown sugar. Return the eggplant and pine nuts to the pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and continue to cook until the liquid has all evaporated.

    The best eggplant Caponata, with creamy eggplant, crisp celery, sweet raisins and briny olives, all in a sweet and sour tomato sauce.
  8. Let the Caponata cool and then refrigerate overnight. Serve the Caponata at room temperature, sprinkled with fresh chopped parsley and crusty bread.

Notes:

For the eggplant, I prefer using small eggplants such as Italian, Graffiti, or Japanese because they tend to have fewer seeds than your average Globe eggplant. Look for them in upscale grocery stores or at a farmers market.

Nutrition Facts
Caponata
Amount Per Serving
Calories 105 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Sodium 6162mg257%
Potassium 164mg5%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 230IU5%
Vitamin C 2.5mg3%
Calcium 18mg2%
Iron 0.9mg5%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.