December 13, 2008

Sicilian Saturday- Caponata

I tried the Caponata at every restaurant and trattoria in Palermo. For years I had been making it wrong. I added bell peppers to the mixture more like Peperonata here in Tuscany. This recipe is much simpler. It is such a popular side dish that it is even sold pre-made in cans. Wonderful as a side dish or slatered on bread as a starter. I adore the combination of sweet and sour and have even had the caponata served warm with a hot bittersweet chocolate sauce served on the side. Try it!

The secret to caponata is to cook the eggplant first. For my recipe I used tomato paste which is also sold in bulk in the market instead of the canned tomatoes. I just wanted a glaze.


Spanish influence blends the sweet and sour of the eggplant stew

1 large eggplant
5 celery stalks
1 large onion, thinly sliced
200 gr green olives, pitted
2 tbs capers,drained
500 gr canned tomatoes
50 gr white sugar
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
50 gr raisins
50 gr pinenuts
salt to taste

Cut the eggplant into large cubes ( about 2 cm) and layer in a colandar with fine sea salt to purge the eggplant of any bitter water.

Place the colander in a sink to let the liquid drain off. Cover with a plate and put a heavy can on top or a pot or water.

Leave for about one hour.

When done, rinse off salt and squeeze out extra liquids and sauté in hot oil.

Cut the celery into 2cm pieces and sauté in hot oil. Remove from pan.
In the same pan, in a little extra virgin olive oil, sauté the onion,

When the onion is cooked, add the green olives, capers and the tomato sauce or paste.
Salt to taste and let cook for 20 minutes.

Add the fried eggplant and celery and cook for 10 more minutes.

Add the vinegar and sugar, a little at a time, correcting as needed to create a balance in sweet and sour.

Stir in the pinenuts and raisins.

I just saw my friends in Palermo wrote up the recipe for "Cuccia", which is made to celebrate Santa Lucia, stop by! Agave's blog I love Palermo


  1. Hallo, you make a very good caponata! Complimenti!!!
    Evelin from Palermo

  2. delicious! i love anything with eggplant. this sounds wonderful :)

  3. Caponata is so amazing when done well. In Rome, I make it a point to stop by Al Vino Al Vino (my neighborhood wine bar) at least once a week for a heaping plate with bread. The owner Giacomo's mother is Sicilian and she makes the most incredible caponata though leaves out the raisons and olives. Down the street at Taverna dei Fori Imperiali Alessio uses both, a reminder that Italian recipes change slightly from city to city-even house to house in some cases.

  4. Caponata reminds me of home I have recently moved to London from Malaga and I love those sweet and sour flavours, I also love it with fried mackarel - Dip the really fresh mackarel in flour and fry quickly in olive oil then chill and serve at room temperature with Caponata and add flaked chilli as a garnish.