Caponata

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!I was cleaning out my office bookshelves the other day.  Over time, I’ve gradually add more and more books until I had books shoved horizontally on top of rows of other books.  It was starting to get a little crowded.  As I was going through the cookbook section, I stumbled across on older Italian recipe book that I got for Christmas years ago.  In fact, it might have been one of the first cookbooks I ever owned.

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!With so many food blogs and social media posts providing recipe inspiration, I gradually forgot about some of our favorite cookbooks hidden on the bookshelf.  As I flipped through the pages of that Italian cookbook, I find myself thinking back to the first time we made many of the recipes.  Needless to say, my bookshelf cleaning project went on pause for a bit there.  As I was scanning the appetizers section, I stumbled across this recipe for Caponata.  We made this recipe once many years ago, and I immediately knew I wanted to make it again.

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!Caponata

Caponata is an appetizer/side dish that hails from Sicily.  Since Laura’s family originally comes from Palermo, I knew she’d be on board with this recipe.  Eggplant (aubergine) forms the basis for Caponata, but the eggplant really absorbs all of the other flavors in the dish.  Traditionally, the eggplant in caponata is fried, but I went a different direction here.  I simply cubed the eggplant and tossed it with a bit of oil.  Then I roasted the eggplant until it just began to caramelize.  Roasted eggplant is an easy and tasty side dish, so I knew it would provide a good base for the rest of the flavors to come.

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!Speaking of the rest of the flavors, there are quite a few.  Olives.  Onions.  Celery.  Garlic.  Tomatoes.  Capers.  And then there is a handful of golden raisins that go in at the end.  The slightly sweet undertones to this savory dish are quite tasty if you ask me!  We like to serve caponata as an appetizer on top of lightly toasted bread – much like bruschetta.  And although it’s not traditional at all, I crumbled some feta on top of our Caponata this time.  We had leftover feta in the fridge, so I figured why not.  And the flavors totally worked!

Oh, and speaking of non-traditional twists, I sprinkled sunflower seeds on top of the caponata as well.  Traditionally, pine nuts are sprinkled on top, but the grocery store was all out of pine nuts.  Plus, pine nuts are pretty darned expensive.  I figured roasted, salted sunflower seeds would provide a close enough substitution.  (Robbie loves sunflowers seeds, so we often keep ’em in the pantry for a snack.)

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!Like most eggplant dishes, the flavors in caponata will taste better if you make this dish ahead of time and let it sit overnight.  As noted, caponata makes for a great appetizer alongside toasted bread, but it also goes well as a side dish next to grilled chicken or fish.  Keep this tasty recipe in mind if you’re looking to mix up the summer flavors!  Enjoy!

Did you make a batch of Caponata at home?  Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog).  I’d love to see your version of this recipe!

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!

Caponata

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 156kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant ~1½ pounds
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 celery stalks sliced into ½” pieces
  • 1 ½ tsp minced garlic
  • 2 bell peppers cut into ½” pieces (I used 1 red and 1 yellow)
  • 16 oz. cherry tomatoes halved
  • ½ cup pitted green olives coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp capers drained
  • cup golden raisins
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Toasted baguette slices
  • ¼ cup roasted sunflower seeds
  • {optional} feta cheese crumbled

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Chop eggplant into 1” cubes.
  • Using a large bowl, add eggplant, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper; toss until well combined.
  • Spread mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until eggplant is soft and some pieces have caramelized; set pan aside.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to a large, deep skillet; place over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and celery.
  • Sauté, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add bell peppers and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 8-9 minutes.
  • Add roasted eggplant and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 more minutes, or until all vegetables are tender.
  • Add tomatoes and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to soften.
  • Add olives, capers, raisins, sugar and vinegar; stir until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, or until mixture thickens. (Note: If mixture dries out, add a bit of water.)
  • Remove pan from stove and let mixture cool to room temperature. (Note: If possible, cover and refrigerate mixture overnight. The flavors will meld into a much tastier dish! Let come to room temperature again before serving.)
  • Spoon mixture over baguette slices and top with sunflower seeds and feta cheese before serving.

Caponata is a tasty and colorful summer recipe.  Serve it as an appetizer with toasted bread or as a side dish alongside grilled fish or chicken!

Looking for more tasty summer appetizer recipes?  Check out these other favorites, too!

Fire up the grill!  These Grilled Caprese Crostini are a fun (and easy) summer appetizer!Grilled Caprese Crostini

Overwhelmed with zucchini from the garden?  These Zucchini Hushpuppies are a fun and tasty way to use those extra zukes!Zucchini Hushpuppies

These Italian Baked Pierogies are a cinch to make...and they're one heck of a tasty appetizer to serve during football season!Italian Baked Pierogies

Spiced® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associate Programs and other affiliate services. This means that spicedblog.com receives a small commission by linking to Amazon.com and other sites at no cost to the readers.

24 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I still loving reading cookbooks – especially old favorites and finding those forgotten recipes. This caponata looks like a perfect summertime appetizer or meal! Clever idea adding sunflower seeds. They’d still add that salty crunch and you are so right about them being a fraction of the cost of pine nuts!

    1. I’m with ya, Kathy. I don’t pull out the cookbooks all that often, but I do have a good time reading back through them. I especially like reading the notes I made to myself in the margins. And look – I (re)discovered this Caponata recipe. It’s a delicious summery appetizer. It also goes great with a bottle of wine! 🙂

  2. It’s so fun to come across old cookbooks, especially when you end up finding recipes you’re excited to try. This caponata looks and sounds so delicious, David!

    1. I hear ya, Marissa. I don’t pull out the cookbooks very often, but I always have a good time flipping through them. And discovering old favorites is fun, too!

  3. 5 stars
    I love bite like this, David! And I’m totally digging the savoury and sweet situation going on! Looks like a great summer app with a glass of vino while sitting on the deck. Never heard of caponata before, but now it’s on my list to try 😉

    1. I’m all about the easy summer appetizers lately, Dawn! Grill up some bread and then have fun with the toppings. And of course a good bottle of wine is a requirement! I highly recommend Caponata. It’s a fun combination of flavors. 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    It’s actually a good point about culinary books. When we just arrived to Canada (8 years ago…wow!), one of my first purchases was a cookbook, I think with ice cream recipes (I had just recently discovered the world of homemade ice cream lol). In fact, it was a series of books, and I think I gradually got almost the entire collection, leaving out a few I wasn’t interested in. Honestly, I haven’t touched those books for at least 6 years as the recipes are too simple for me now(Some of them were never touched), but when we were getting rid of some of our books last year, we decided to keep this collection as the symbol.) With the entire Internet, it’s so easy to check some ideas out or look for an inspiration here, I admit that. Still, books are so cosy, right? I have two favourite books with Christmas recipes, and somewhere in November or beginning of December I love to grab them and enjoy going through them and planning even though I know I ptobably won’t use their recipes – but that’s about rituals and some special atmosphere, too. And I get a new book every now and then. Last year I got a book with lavender recipes (I should have happened much earlier! lol) and the second one with the Atlantic Canada cuisine, and I actually tried two recipes from them. Long story short, I love eggplant, bruschettas, and caponata for its vibrant and bold flavours, so that’s my kind of meal. Delicious!

    1. I didn’t realize it’s only been 8 years since you guys moved to Canada. That’s not long at all! We’ve been in New York for 10 years now, and it feels (almost) like yesterday that we moved.

      You make a good point about the rituals and tradition of thumbing through cookbooks. I remember my Mom collecting stacks of cooking magazines and books, and she’d flip through them each night while sitting in bed. I used to think that would be boring, but now I understand the appeal.

      No matter the inspiration source, I can say that Caponata is a delicious combination of ingredients. I highly recommend it! Plus, it’s right up your alley in terms of bruschettas and flatbreads!

  5. 5 stars
    Very true about cookbooks — it’s much easier to Google a recipe, but I still love having them around for inspiration. Looks like you found a hidden gem! This caponata looks lovely — I’ve got a jar of green olives begging to be used, so I might have to look for some eggplant on my next grocery run!

    1. I’m glad I didn’t throw away all of those cookbooks when we moved last year. (To be fair, I did purge out quite a few.) It was fun flipping back through those cookbooks…and, hey, I rediscovered this fun recipe for Caponata. I highly recommend it as a fun summer appetizer or even light dinner. Thanks, Michelle!

    1. I’m with ya, Sherry. I’ll fry things on occasion, but I don’t love doing it. It’s a mess! Plus, roasting is so much healthier. I highly recommend this Caponata for a fun appetizer. 🙂

    1. It is fun to thumb through those old cookbooks! I don’t do it very often, but I always enjoy stopping and just pulling out some of the old favorites. Thanks so much, Dawn!

  6. Oh dude! I cannot tell you how many times a cookbook “ straightening up session “ has ended up with a full on baking mess! If I recall correctly, you’re a clean cook but I’m a way messier one so you can imagine my kitchen! Lil S could tell you some kitchen stories! BYW- I have pine nuts in my fridge- I’ll bring some when we come up to visit and dine on THIS??? 🙂 maybe when there’s a vaccine for Covid!
    Seriously this caponata has so so much flavor! From the olives, onions, garlic, capers, and feta! I’d rather make this a meal with a side of bacon?! So delicious, my friend, so delicious!

    1. Haha – cleaning up cookbooks is highly correlated with hitting the kitchen and making a mess! Although you’re right…I do like to try to keep things clean as I go. Otherwise I have no idea where I am!

      Caponata is delicious in its own right, but I can’t stop thinking about that side of bacon. Bacon makes everything better! Thanks, Shashi!

  7. I have way too many cookbooks … way too many to thoroughly know. But they’re such great resources, that I hate to neglect them. So, I have this crazy ritural of asking Alexa to randomly pick a shelf, then randomly pick a book from that shelf, and a page from that book, and I try to convince myself to cook whatever’s on that page. Crazy, right? Anyway, love this caponata! I’ll bet you could use it in so many ways.

    1. I hear ya on the cookbooks being a good resource, Jeff. They really are. But they also take up a lot of room…and you don’t often realize how much until you stand back and look at the bookshelf.

      With that said, that’s a pretty hilarious (and awesome) ritual you have. It definitely would mix things up. You’ve probably discovered some pretty cool recipes using that trick!

  8. 5 stars
    Your cookbook shelves sound like mine David! Overloaded. I really could do with having a clearout there too. Might stop Lynne from nagging about it. Thanks for bringing us this Caponata recipe. I’d definitely let this refrigerate overnight to get the maximum flavour out of it. Looks and sounds like a delicious lunch recipe!

    1. Yeah, I have to force myself to go in every few years and purge down the bookshelves. It’s about the time when I start stacking books horizontally on top that I realize it’s time.

      You’re right about letting this caponata sit overnight. The flavors really meld that way. It’s a super delicious (and different) recipe!

  9. Darn it. I’m making this. I guess I never have because husband wouldn’t eat it. the eggplant, the raisins, capers…… you name it. but i’m really missing out. Thanks for the reminder. Printing your recipe.

    1. Awesome! I hope you enjoy this one, Mimi. Sorry your husband won’t dig in…but I guess that just leaves more for you, huh? And this totally works as a side dish, although we love spooning it over grilled bread in the summer!

    1. I’m with ya, Karen! I like frying the eggplant (or anything else), too, but there is always the mess to deal with afterwards. Roasting the eggplant is nice and easy here, and I don’t think there was any loss in terms of flavor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating