Caponata with vegetables

Caponata is one of the most typical dishes of Sicily and can be served both as a side or as an appetizer. With it sweet-sour flavor, it is in a sense the essence of Sicily.

  • Time

    55 minutes

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Course

    Appetizers

  • Italian Region

    Sicily

Ingredients

Servings 4

  • 1 lb eggplant
  • ½ lb tomatoes, ripened
  • 7 oz onion
  • 7 oz zucchini
  • 5 oz celery
  • 3 ½ oz green olives
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz capers
  • ¾ oz granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 oz raisins
  • basil to taste
  • 1 ¾ oz pine nuts
  • 7 oz bell peppers

Preparation

30 minutes preparation + 25 minutes cooking

Step 1

Carefully wash the vegetable, dice them, cut olives in halves, and onions julienne-style.

Caponata with vegetables and sfinciuni - step 1

Step 2

Stew the onion in a pan with the oil, add salt and half the vinegar, to evaporate.

Caponata with vegetables and sfinciuni - step 2

Step 3

Brown the eggplant in a pan, add salt, cook for a few minutes, set aside.

Step 4

In a large pan brown the celery and zucchini in abundant oil.

Caponata with vegetables and sfinciuni - step 4

Step 5

Add peppers and capers after washing off salt.

Step 6

Add onion previously stewed and the tomato.

Step 7

Add previously sautéed eggplant, raisins previously soaked in water, and pine kernels. Finally, add vinegar and sugar, check taste. Add fresh basil leaves.

Step 8

Toss the ‘caponata’ and cook till vegetables are done. Serve cold with a sprinkle of cocoa powder if wished.

Caponata with vegetables and sfinciuni - step 8

Chef's Tips

The Sicilian-style ‘caponata’ with vegetables can also be served as a side dish with seafood or meat main courses. Its sweet and sour taste gives the dish a distinctive flavor. We suggest serving it with light dishes that are not too elaborate.
A good ‘caponata’ should be blended but with the vegetables distinctly separate, not forming a creamy compote. And pairs perfectly with the sfincioni (focaccia) of Palermo.

Food History

Caponata is a dish prepared throughout southern Italy, and especially in Sicily where you can find over 37 different traditional variations of this recipe. Already in use in the 18th century and known for its sweet-sour flavor, caponata comes in two basic styles: one based on fish, for which have included a recipe by Ippolito Cavalcanti from "La cucina teorico-pratica con corrispondente riposto" written 1839; and another based on vegetables, deriving from the countryside.
Sicilian vegetable caponata, even if considered a more humble dish compared to the fish version, has evolved throughout the centuries to include a wide variety of Mediterranean vegetables, like eggplants, celery, onions, olives, cappers, and on rare occasion, artichokes.

Did you know that…

Although celery had already been discovered by the ancient Romans, it was used for medical purposes. For example, celery was often used during banquets to decorate the plates, because people believes it neutralized the strong aromas of the wine.

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