This Eggplant Caponata Recipe is the perfect traditional Italian condiment that’s great for topping bruschetta, tossing with pasta, or topping grilled meats. Traditional caponata that’s easy to put together and great for any occasion.
Caponata is an Italian specialty with origins in Sicily. It is the essence of Mediterranean cuisine with its flavors and combination of fresh and brined vegetables.
Eggplant Caponata can have many uses. It’s a great accompaniment to an antipasto platter or a topping for bruschetta. Toss it with fresh pasta and you have a delicious meal.
There are numerous versions of caponata out there. Some use raisins, hard boiled eggs, or pine nuts. Here, I’ll show you my favorite caponata recipe, which includes kalamata olives, jarred roasted red bell peppers, and capers.
What is Eggplant Caponata?
Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish consisting of diced cooked eggplant, onions, celery, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The dish is cooked with olives, capers, and olive oil. There are numerous variants of caponata, some including pine nuts, raisins, and carrots.
Caponata is typically used as a side dish for meat and fish dishes, or as an appetizer. My favorite way to serve eggplant caponata is on top of bruschetta. I also love to toss any leftovers with fresh pasta. Be sure to give this versatile recipe a try!
Eggplant Caponata Recipe
This traditional eggplant caponata recipe includes traditional elements like eggplant, tomatoes, onion, celery, and capers. Here, I use kalamata olives instead of green, and I omit the raisins and pine nuts. Feel free to substitute or add in whatever ingredients you prefer.
Before you start, you will need to make sure that you have a large skillet or dutch oven to cook the caponata. I like to use my Le Creuset Braiser. It’s versatile enough to use everyday and great for making sauces or meatballs.
Read on to see how to make this delicious and flavorful Eggplant Caponata Recipe. With its slightly salty sweet bite, it’s sure to be your new favorite.
Step 1: Prepare the Eggplant
Prior to frying the eggplant, you will need to salt and drain it to remove excess moisture. This is a simple step that will really bring out the flavors of the eggplant without all of the moisture.
Firstly, dice the eggplant into small chucks – about 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Then, sprinkle the eggplant with kosher salt and place in a colander to drain. Alternately, you can place the eggplant on sheets of paper towels.
Let the eggplant sit for at least thirty minutes, then rinse under cold water to remove the salt. Lastly, pat the eggplant dry with a paper towel and set aside.
Step 2: Pan Fry the Vegetables
While the eggplant sits, you can begin prepping the other vegetables for this recipe. Once the veggies are diced, move on to preparing the caponata.
Firstly, fry the onions and celery. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Then add in the diced onion and celery. Stir until softened, about 7 minutes. Next, add in the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside.
Then, heat the remaining olive oil in the same skillet over medium high heat. Add in the drained and dried eggplant cubes. Cook until you lightly brown the eggplant, about 10 minutes. Then, move on the step.
Step 3: Add remaining ingredients and simmer
Once the eggplant is cooked, add back in the onion mixture. Then, stir in the diced plum tomatoes, roasted red bell peppers, olives, capers, and seasonings.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce heat. Let cook, stirring frequently, until the some of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture has softened. Cool to room temperature and serve or refrigerate for later use.
I find a day or two in the refrigerator can really bring out the flavors of the caponata… if you can wait that long!
More Italian Favorites
Caponata is a traditional Italian favorite. Be sure to check out these other traditional Italian dishes:
Peas and Pancetta is a delicious Italian side dish that comes together fast.
Cheese Beef Stuffed Shells with a homemade meat sauce is a easy recipe that everyone loves.
Simple Marinara Sauce recipe is a great sauce to make ahead and have on hand for pasta.
Tiramisu recipe with Kahlua is a classic dish made with ladyfingers and espresso.
Limoncello Ricotta Cookies with a limoncello glaze are a fully soft cookie that’s great for dipping.
Lemon Polenta Cake is a light and moist Italian cake with a simple lemony glaze.
I hope you love this Eggplant Caponata Recipe. Be sure to comment below if you try it. Enjoy!
- large skillet or dutch oven
- 1 large eggplant (1 to 1 ½ pounds) diced in ½ to one inch cubes
- 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2 cloves minced garlic (about two teaspoons)
- 1 15 ounce can diced plum tomatoes
- ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and diced
- ½ cup roasted red bell peppers, diced
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- fresh basil for serving
- Dice the eggplant into ½ to 1 inch cubes (skin on). Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of kosher salt over the eggplant and toss to combine. Place the eggplant in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant to remove the salt and pat dry with paper towels; set aside.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the diced onion and celery and cook for about 7 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute, then remove the mixture from the pan and set aside.
- To the skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the drained and dried eggplant and cook until softened and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the onion celery mixture, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, capers, red wine vinegar, sugar, oregano, and remaining ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring the mixture to a low simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to cook until all of the vegetables have softened, about 20 minutes.
- Let caponata cool to room temperature before serving, or cover and refrigerate and served cold. Stir in or top with fresh basil before serving.