On those days when you’re looking to eat a little lighter – but you still want to enjoy some bold and fantastic flavors – then Caponata is the perfect option!
Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish made from cooked eggplant, celery, green olives, onions and capers – and more modern-day recipes also include diced tomatoes as a key ingredient! A caponata is flavored in a sweet and sour dressing made from extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and sugar. And – some local variations include raisins, bell pepper and even carrots.
Although the vegetables are cooked – caponata is most often served chilled or at room temperature as a side to fish or meat. It’s also very delicious spread on toasted bread as we did here. We even stir our leftover caponata (when we have it) into pasta or rice or add it to a fresh greens salad!
Our recipe today is adapted from a version found in Everyday Italian by Giada de Laurentiis – and we stayed fairly true to her delicious original recipe except we used fresh garden tomatoes instead of canned, and we tweaked the proportions of the ingredients slightly to suit our own personal tastes. Enjoy!
Note: The flavors in this dish get even better once it has had a chance to sit – so feel free to make this a day ahead if you’d like!
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup sliced celery
- 1 medium eggplant cut into one inch cubes, skin left on (about 3 cups or so)
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 whole red bell pepper, cored and seeded and cut into one inch pieces
- 2 cups fresh juicy tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
- ¼ cup golden raisins, regular raisins or currants
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh chopped basil, for garnish
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium to medium high heat and add celery. Cook for two minutes until it starts to crisp. Add eggplant and cook for two more minutes. Add onions and cook for about three more minutes then add red peppers. Cook for about three minutes then add tomatoes, raisins and dry oregano.
- Reduce to a medium simmer and simmer for about ten minutes or until the liquid has thickened and the vegetables tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Caponata can be eaten hot, at room temperature, or chilled.
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