Caponata Siciliana | Lunch

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

I wish more people loved eggplant as much as Sicilians do! Perhaps this recipe will help convert a few more. Although traditionally green olives are used, I prefer kalamatas. If you can’t get good fresh tomatoes, use diced canned tomatoes.


1 pound eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes 4 to 6 teaspoons oil 2 stalks celery, cut on the diagonal into ½-inch pieces 1 medium onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped ½ cup red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon sugar 1½ cups seeded, diced tomatoes 1 tablespoon capers 2 tablespoons pitted, slivered kalamata olives 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 tablespoon pine nuts, lightly toasted 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley (optional) 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil (optional) Salt


Generously salt the eggplant cubes and place them in a colander. Allow the eggplant to drain for 30 minutes. The eggplant should have released a fair amount of light brown liquid. Rinse the eggplant briefly under cold water and pat dry. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onion, and garlic and sauté until the onion is just softened. Remove the onions and celery from the pan and reserve in a large mixing bowl. Heat 2 more teaspoons of the oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant cubes in a single layer and cook until they are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Cook the eggplant in batches if necessary. If you overcrowd the pan, the eggplant will not cook evenly. Add the eggplant to the bowl with the onions and celery. Add the vinegar and sugar to the sauté pan, bring to a boil, and reduce the mixture by half. Pour the vinegar mixture over the eggplant mixture and toss until the vegetables are coated. Let the mixture cool slightly. When the mixture is still warm, add the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Let the caponata stand for at least 30 minutes or overnight (refrigerate if letting stand more than 30 minutes). Serve chilled or at room temperature. Makes 4 to 5 cups.

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