Silky, sweet, and sour, this eggplant caponata recipe is a delicious summer appetizer. Serve it on crostini with lots of fresh basil for garnish!
These days, our neighborhood farmers market is basically like a caponata cooking kit. Mounds of eggplants, tomatoes, and multicolored peppers fill every stall. I’m pretty pleased about it, because this Sicilian vegetable stew is one of my favorite late summer dishes. It’s tangy, briny, and lightly sweet, with a rich, silky texture that’s absolutely irresistible.
I first fell in love with caponata years ago on a trip to Italy. Jack and I ordered it as an appetizer with crusty bread and a glass of white wine almost everywhere we went. When we got home, of course I had to learn how to make my own version. This caponata recipe has been a fixture in our kitchen ever since. I hope you love it as much as we do!
Caponata Recipe Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this eggplant caponata recipe:
- Eggplant, of course! Traditional caponata recipes start with fried eggplant, but for a lighter, hands-off shortcut, I roast it instead.
- Celery, onion, and garlic – They add savory flavor.
- Red bell peppers – A classic caponata ingredient!
- Tomatoes – They create a light sauce for the other veggies.
- Tomato paste – It thickens the fresh tomato sauce.
- Capers – For briny flavor. Some caponata recipes call for both green olives and capers, but I find that just capers do the trick. Plus, I always have a jar in my fridge!
- Sherry vinegar – In a pinch, red wine vinegar will work here too.
- Cane sugar and golden raisins – For sweetness. Many eggplant caponatas are only sweetened with sugar, but I love the complexity that the raisins add to this recipe.
- Extra-virgin olive oil – For richness.
- Fresh parsley and basil – For an aromatic finishing touch.
- And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
The first step to making this recipe is roasting the eggplant.
While it’s in the oven, place the golden raisins in a small bowl with the vinegar and capers. They’ll plump up nicely in the vinegar. By the time you add them to the caponata, they’ll be soft, juicy, and full of the vinegar’s tang.
Then, sauté the aromatic veggies and cook the saucy tomato and pepper mixture. Tip: make sure to sauté the vegetables until they soften fully. This caponata recipe is best when all the veggies are tender!
Add the roasted eggplant, plumped raisins, vinegar, and capers to the tomato and pepper sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes to allow the eggplant to soak up the sauce’s flavors.
Finally, stir in the parsley and season to taste. Garnish with fresh basil before serving!
How to Serve Eggplant Caponata
Though you certainly could serve eggplant caponata warm as a side dish, I like it best chilled or at room temperature. Serve it as an appetizer with crostini, or add it to a mezze platter or cheese board at a late summer gathering. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend serving it on day 2 or 3, after the flavors have had a chance to meld.
If you have leftover caponata, here are a few fun ways to use it up:
- Toss it with pasta for a speedy weeknight meal.
- Serve it over polenta with toasted pine nuts for crunch.
- Pile it onto toast and top it with a poached or soft-boiled egg.
- Slather it onto a sandwich with arugula and fresh mozzarella cheese.
How do you like to serve caponata? Let me know in the comments!
More Favorite Eggplant Recipes
If you love this caponata recipe, try one of these delicious eggplant recipes next:
Serves 6 to 8
This eggplant caponata recipe is a delicious summer appetizer or side dish! My take on the sweet and sour Sicilian stew, it’s fantastic chilled or at room temperature. We love it on crostini with fresh basil for garnish.
- 1 recipe Roasted Eggplant
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 pound tomatoes, about 4 medium, cored and diced
- ½ teaspoon cane sugar
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Crostini, for serving
Roast the eggplant according to this recipe.
In a small bowl, combine the golden raisins, vinegar, and capers. Set aside for the raisins to soften while you prepare the caponata.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add the red pepper and salt. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
Add the tomato paste, garlic, tomatoes, and sugar, and cook, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down and become saucy.
Add the roasted eggplant, raisins, vinegar, capers, and several grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.
Allow the caponata to cool to room temperature. We like it best on days 2 and 3, after the flavors have had a chance to meld. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
When ready to serve, garnish the caponata with fresh basil. Serve with crostini.