To describe the Eggplant Caponata is difficult because I can’t find adjectives.
For me, it is one of the main masterpieces of Sicilian cuisine. Based above all on some typical ingredients such as aubergines, tomatoes, and basil which are the undisputed protagonists of Eggplant Caponata.
These ingredients, already common to other typical recipes such as Pasta alla Norma and Eggplant Parmigiana, create a mix of aromas, colors, and flavors that recalls the traditions of a wonderful island.
A simple side dish based on eggplant, tomato, onion, green olives, capers, celery, parsley.
A mix of fried vegetables then sauteed in a pan with sugar and vinegar, that give to the Eggplant Caponata, the typical sweet-and-sour taste!
Besides being delicious, Eggplant Caponata is also suitable for those who follow a vegetarian and vegan diet, as it lacks any ingredient of animal origin.
How to serve Eggplant Caponata?
Traditionally in Sicily eggplant caponata is served cold or lukewarm as an appetizer or as a side dish to accompany fish or meat dishes.
There are many variations of this recipe, each province, each city and each family has its own version.
But all with something in common: the use of sweet and sour sauce, which gives to the vegetables a delicious and unique flavor.
Let’s discover some of these variants starting with the classic one ingredients.
Eggplant, celery, onion, capers, green olives, peeled tomato, parsley, sugar, and vinegar.
In the Agrigento version instead, they add some ingredients. Black olives, garlic, peppers, pine nuts or toasted almonds, sultana, and honey instead of sugar.
In the Catania version, they add yellow and green peppers, potatoes, garlic, and basil.
The Messina version is the same as the classic one, the only difference is using peeled tomatoes in the first, and tomato puree in the second.
You can prepare the Eggplant Caponata in advance (or in a certain amount so you can use it several times),
Place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It keeps well even for three days.
But I am sure that you can’t resist the temptation to eat it before.
A mix of vegetables cooked in sweet and sour tomato sauce
- 2 Large Eggplant (800gr.)
- 2 Red Onions
- 4 Celery Stalks (300gr.)
- 100 gr. Unpitted Green Olives (In Brine)
- 30 gr. Capers (Rinsed under cold water)
- 300 gr. Chopped Tomatoes (Fresh or canned)
- 40 gr. Granulated Sugar
- 40 ml. Apple Cider Vinegar
- Vegetables Oil for frying
- 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh chopped Parsley
- Salt & Pepper
Wash the eggplants, then trim and cut them into 1-inch cubes.
Place cubes in a colander and sprinkle them with 2 tbsp of salt.
Place a plate on top, a weight, and leave for an hour to remove the bitter moisture.
Wash and dice celery stalks.
Cook the celery in salted boiling water for about 15 – 20 minutes until it is tender but still firm then, drain and set aside.
Pit and cut in half the olives.
Rinse the capers under cold water.
Cut the onions into thin slices.
Rinse the cubes under cold water, squeeze them with your hands and dry with a clean cloth.
Fry the eggplant cubes in vegetable oil a few at a time until golden brown.
Place them into a colander with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil and, set aside.
In a large pan over low heat, heat 4 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Add onions and brown until soft.
Add celery, capers, and olive. Stir and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Add chopped tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and,
Let cook for 25 – 30 minute adding a splash of water if necessary.
When the sauce is cooked and begins to thicken, add the eggplants
Stir well all the ingredient and continue to cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
Add sugar and vinegar into the pan.
Stir well and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off the heat, adjust salt if necessary then sprinkle chopped parsley and stir.
Let the eggplant caponata to cool.
Serve lukewarm or cold.