This hearty eggplant caponata recipe is packed with vegetables and savory flavors. There is no better way to get your veggies than with this Sicilian eggplant caponata!
Originally published in August 2020, this post has been updated.
What is Caponata?
Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish with fresh vegetables and a sweet and sour sauce. One of my favorite things about the food from this region is that they’re full of fresh ingredients and are so naturally healthy!
Caponata is somewhat similar to the French ratatouille. They both feature eggplant, tomatoes, and onions cooked in olive oil. Unlike ratatouille, though, caponata also includes olives, capers, and vinegar that gives the dish a delicious tang. It usually has a sweet component, like raisins or brown sugar, that adds another layer of flavor.
Onion – A red or white onion pairs best with the other flavors in the skillet.
Celery stalks – celery is consistently listed on the on the Dirty Dozen list put out by the Environmental Working Group, so you might want to opt for the organic celery.
Garlic cloves – use fresh garlic cloves for this recipe for the best flavor.
Eggplant – any type of eggplant will do for this recipe. Italian eggplants are the most commonly used, but if you only have access to the long Japanese eggplants, those will work just fine.
Tomatoes – use any variety of tomato, but you’ll probably need to drain off some of the juice before you add the remaining ingredients. Plum tomatoes (aka Roma tomatoes) are a great option since they’re so meaty.
Tomato passata – tomato puree or tomato sauce can be substituted.
White wine vinegar – this helps add a savory depth of flavor to the vegetables. You can also use red wine vinegar, or for a sweeter touch, balsamic vinegar.
Capers – adding salty capers to the dish adds a burst of flavor in each bite.
Olives – start with canned chopped olives or chop them yourself. Use black olives or ripe green olives, your choice!
Almonds – adding sliced almonds as a garnish gives this caponata a little bit of crunch. Alternatively, you could use pine nuts, but they do tend to be a bit expensive.
Prepping this Eggplant Caponata
Get your knives sharpened and your cutting board ready! You are going to need to cut up your onions, celery, eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic before you put them in your skillet.
Pro tip: Prep your veggies for recipes like this on a Sunday. That way when you’re in the middle of your work week you’ll cut down on midweek cooking time!
Who loves a recipe where you get to throw everything in one pan? (Fewer dishes to do? Yes please!)
How to Make Eggplant Caponata
Once you’ve diced your veggies, you’ll cook the onion and celery, then add the eggplant and garlic. Some people prefer to cook the veggies separately before combining them, but I love the way the different flavors come together when you cook them together!
Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, passata, vinegar, and garnishes to your skillet, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes with the lid on. Next, remove the lid on the skillet and stir the fresh parsley and toasted almonds into the caponata. Season the skillet to your own preference.
Is caponata served hot or cold?
Caponata can be served hot or at room temperature. It can also be frozen to save for a meal later in the week.
How long can caponata stay in the fridge?
Caponata stays fresh for about five days in an airtight container in the fridge. It can stay frozen for weeks.
What is the difference between caponata and ratatouille?
While both dishes contain similar vegetables, caponata usually contains ingredients that sweeten the taste more than ratatouille.
Making Eggplant Caponata Keto-Friendly
If you’re trying to make this recipe keto-friendly for others (or yourself), all you have to do is skip the raisins! Not only that, but this eggplant caponata is also completely gluten-free!
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cubed
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup tomato passata (or tomato puree)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ cup green olives, pitted and sliced
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped, divided
- 3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted, divided
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, approximately 4-5 minutes.
- Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet, along with the garlic and eggplant cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant pieces begin to cook down and soften, around 6-7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, passata, vinegar, capers, green olives, and raisins. Stir to combine and cover skillet with a lid. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir 2 tablespoons each of the fresh parsley and toasted almonds into the caponata. Taste and adjust seasonings, as desired.
- Garnish with remaining chopped parsley and almonds, if desired.
- Serve with main dish meals like fish or chicken, or add it to the appetizer table with toasted baguette slices for your next dinner party or holiday gathering.
Substitute strained tomatoes or tomato sauce if passata is not available. Regular raisins can be substituted for the golden raisins.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 237Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 285mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 4gSugar: 8gProtein: 22g
Want to dive into more Sicilian cuisine? Try this delicious Sicilian roasted artichoke salad!