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Caponata (Stewed Mediterranean vegetables) recipe

Caponata (Stewed Mediterranean vegetables) recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Side dish
  • Vegetable side dishes
  • Courgette side dishes

Caponata is a Sicilian dish of mixed vegetables traditionally cooked in oil and vinegar and flavoured with sugar, raisins, capers, olives and pine nuts. It's tangy, sweet, crunchy and salty all at the same time. It will taste even better the next day!

3 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2 cm pieces
  • 1 medium aubergine, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 courgettes, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 red or yellow peppers, sliced into strips
  • 120ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 120ml white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 400ml tomato passata
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 handful of raisins
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon brined capers
  • 1 handful black olives, pitted
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

MethodPrep:25min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:55min

  1. Blanch the celery in salted water for 1 minute; drain.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat; add onion and celery and cook for a few minutes until golden. Add aubergine, peppers and courgettes; continue to cook for a few minutes longer. Stir in vinegar, sugar and tomato passata; cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add raisins, pine nuts, capers and olives. Season to taste; continue to cook for a few more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat; stir in chopped basil and allow to cool.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Reviews in English (3)


I had never heard of caponata until I plugged eggplant and zucchini into the this site search and this came up. My goodness, it's DELICIOUS. I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn't boil the celery ahead of time (wasn't sure what the point was since I was going to saute it again anyway???). Also, I couldn't find fresh basil that looked good so I used 1/2 tsp. dried, and while I was at it added 1/2 tsp. dried oregano and a few springs of fresh rosemary that I had to use up. The result was a savory, sweet, delicious vegetable dish that I ate as a main course. I will definitely make this again, hopefully with fresh basil so I can try it exactly as written.-07 Aug 2018

by Buckwheat Queen

Authentic, classic recipe. The first time I had this it was alongside burrata and it is an excellent combination. Toss leftovers with pasta or add them to risotto. Thank you for the recipe.-19 Aug 2017

Sicilian vegetable stew (Caponata siciliana)

The queen of the vegetable stews! I have tried many, but this one is THE ONE I like most its sweet and sour character, colourful appearance and flavour packed soul will make any vegetarian jump for joy and turn meat eaters into part time vegetarians. The Sicilian vegetable stew is known as “Caponata Siciliana”. There are many versions of the stew on the island (apparently 37 official versions), depending on local customs, and the difference between them is that sometimes people like to add other types of vegetables, sometimes people don’t add the potatoes or sometimes they add fish to it and so on. There are many theories about the origin of the name “Caponata” one of them says that it has Catalan origin and that around 16th century the stew was made adding a fish called “capone”. However, only aristocratic families could afford to buy this kind of fish so, around the 17th century, poor families decided to use aubergines instead of fish and the stew was consumed accompanied with bread. There is another interesting thing about this stew and this is the use of raisins and pine kernels, which is something not so unusual when you come across Sicilian dishes this is probably because of the influence of the Arab occupation of the island between 827 AD and 1091 AD. Anyway, it is a wonderful stew and I hope you really enjoy it.


Ingredients (Metric & Imperial measurements):

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) Aubergines (diced)
  • 1 Courgette (sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (sliced)
  • 75 ml (3 fl oz) Extra virgin olive oil (for the initial sauté)
  • 1 Onion (cut into thin rings)
  • 2 Bell peppers (one red and one yellow - sliced into strips)
  • 400 g (14 oz) Chopped tomatoes (a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)
  • 1/2 tbs Dry basil (alternatively finely chop 5 leaves of fresh basil)
  • 300 g (11 oz) Potatoes (diced)
  • 10 g (1 tbs) Sugar
  • 100 ml (4 fl oz) White wine vinegar
  • 25 g (1 oz) Capers
  • 25 g (1 oz) Pine kernels
  • 25 g (1 oz) Raisins
  • 75 g (3 oz) Green olives (stoned and cut in half)
  • 60 g (2 1/2 oz) Sun dried tomatoes (the ones preserved in oil will do)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 750 ml Light olive oil for the frying of the aubergine, courgette and celery
  • These are Imperial and Metric measurements. U.S measurements available at

Nutrition facts: Calories 650 per serving.

Ingredients (U.S. measurements):

  • 18 ounces (1 pound 2 ounces) Eggplants (diced)
  • 1 Courgette (sliced)
  • 1 Celery stalk (sliced)
  • 5 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil (for the initial sauté)
  • 1 Onion (cut into thin rings)
  • 2 Bell peppers (one red and one yellow - sliced into strips)
  • 14 ounces Chopped tomatoes (a tin of chopped tomatoes will do)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dry basil (alternatively finely chop 5 leaves of fresh basil)
  • 10 1/2 ounces Potatoes (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) White wine vinegar
  • 1 ounce Capers
  • 1 ounce Pine kernels
  • 1 ounce Raisins
  • 3 ounces Green olives (stoned and cut in half)
  • 2 1/2 ounces Sun dried tomatoes (the ones preserved in oil will do)
  • Salt and black pepper for seasoning
  • 3 1/8 cups Light olive oil for the frying of the aubergine, courgette and celery

Note: Mild & light olive oil is ideal for frying and less expensive than extra virgin olive oil.

Dice the aubergines, roughly 2 x 2 cm dice (3/4" x 3/4"), and put the dice into a colander, sprinkle with lots of salt and leave to rest for a couple of hours. The salt will extract the bitter dark juice from the aubergines (if you want to know more about this technique, check “preparing aubergines”, featured in the top tips section of the website). After two hours, rinse the aubergines and pat them dry before frying them.

Meanwhile, you have plenty of time to prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the courgette into 3 mm (1/8") thick slices. Do the same with the celery.

Peel the skin off the peppers. If your pepper have a full round profile, a peeler will save you lots of hassle otherwise you can use a pairing knife and with a bit of patience you will get the job done.

Then, cut the peppers into strips, roughly 5 cm (2") long and 5 mm (3/16") thick I wouldn’t go any thicker than this because it will be more difficult to sauté them.

This is the stage where the vegetables are ready to be fried. The timing for the frying is dictated by the aubergines, which need to go through a self cleaning process before to use them. Once the aubergines are ready, lay the vegetables to be fried onto a kitchen towels and see the next stage.

Just before you start frying, revive the raisins soaking them in lukewarm water for about 15-20 minutes, then drain them using a little sieve and set aside.

Put the light olive oil into a pan suitable for deep frying. Heat the oil until it gets the right temperature for frying.

Start with the aubergines, frying the dice for about 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes, remove the aubergine dice with a slotted spoon and put them into a large bowl lined with kitchen paper, to absorb the excess oil.

Using the same oil, fry the courgette for 4 minutes and then put them onto kitchen paper.

The same applies for the celery. Fry for 4 minutes and then put the slices onto kitchen paper.

Finally, once the excess oil is absorbed, then you can put all three fried vegetables together and set aside.

The next step is the initial sauté. Put the extra virgin olive oil into a large pan, bring the heat to medium and gently start to sauté the onion.

When the onion starts softening (I would say after 2-3 minutes), add the peppers and continue with the sauté.

Give it a good stir so that both the onion and pepper are well coated with oil. Continue cooking until the onion becomes well golden in colour. This is the stage where you add the chopped tomatoes.

Give it a good stir. If you think the sauce is too dry, there is nothing wrong in adding half a glass (roughly 100 ml - 3/8 cup) of boiled water.

Cover with the lid and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.

After 10 minuets, add the sugar.

Finally, add the sun dried tomatoes (roughly cut into pieces). I used sun dried tomatoes from a jar, the ones preserved in sunflower oil, so these were already soft. If you want to use the very dried ones you can buy in a sachet, remember to soak them first into lukewarm water to soften them a bit.

Add the fried vegetables into the pan.

Give it a good stir. Also in this case, if you think that the stew is too dry, half a glass of boiled water will help (this is what I did).

Cover with the lid and continue cooking for about 20 minutes over very low heat, gently stirring once or twice.

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool down traditionally it is best served cold (some people prefer it still hot).

Use some home made bread to prepare a bruschetta-like dish. Slice the bread.

Heat a cast iron grill pan.

Once the pan is piping hot, grill the bread on both sides.

Finally, serve the vegetable stew over a slice of bread.

Buon appetito!
PS: this is where a good glass of south Italian red wine will come handy, to complete this Sicilian experience!

3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 1/2 cups diced unpeeled aubergine (i.e., eggplant)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 small sticks celery, finely chopped
18 pitted green olives, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped drained bottled capers
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted lightly (optional, but nice)
1 cup good chopped plum tomatoes
4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)

Cook the aubergine in 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over moderately high heat. The best way to do this is to heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a heavy frying pan, add the aubergine and mix well, then drizzle over another 1 Tbsp. oil and mix again. This helps stop the cubes on the bottom from absorbing all the oil. Cook, stirring often, until done, 15-20 minutes. When done, transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to the frying pan, tip in the onion and celery, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes over moderate heat or until the onion is fairly soft but not colored.

Add the olives, capers, vinegar, sugar, raisins, pine nuts (if using), and tomatoes and cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, or until it is cooked through and the celery is tender.

Cook it covered if using fresh tomatoes, and uncovered if using canned, since they have more juice. Add the tomato mixture to the bowl. Add the parsley and mix well.

Bit players

Onion and celery are the other mainstays of caponata " indeed, Jane Grigson lists the latter as a main ingredient. I like the River Cafe's choice of red onion, which complements the other sweet flavours, but I'm less keen on the two whole heads of celery they use. To be honest, it's not my favourite vegetable, which may explain my preference for Locatelli and Kenedy's more moderate number of stalks. The River Cafe blanch theirs before use, and Del Conte deep-fries it, but it's just as easy to soften smaller amounts alongside the onion.

Jacob Kenedy's caponata. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian

Locatelli explains that traditionally caponata "is made with whatever vegetables the people have, depending on the season" he uses courgette and fennel, while Ottolenghi adds a red pepper. This, of course, gives you carte blanche to substitute whatever you fancy personally, I find the pepper has a tendency to overpower the softer, creamier flavours of the other vegetables, and I'm not particularly keen on mushy fennel, but the courgette works beautifully. Garlic, for once, doesn't add much to this recipe " the River Cafe and Ottolenghi use it, but I can't taste among all the other flavours in there.


  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces), cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers in brine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves


Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped green pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small eggplant, unpeeled, cut in 1- to 2-inch chunks
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped parsley

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tb. oil. Saute onion and pepper until soft, about 10 minutes. Add 1 Tb. oil, garlic, mushrooms and eggplant. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is softened but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, olives, chickpeas and rosemary. Simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley. Sprinkle feta cheese over stew if desired.

Caponata Stew

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Caponata is a Sicilian stew traditionally made with fried eggplant and served at room temperature. This version gets its rich taste from simmered vegetables. Serve it with garlic toast, brown rice or Hummus Cakes.


  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1 28-oz. can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine or 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano


1. Place eggplant in colander, and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand 10 minutes. Rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.

2. Heat oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeño, and sauté 10 minutes, or until onion is softened and translucent. Add eggplant and mushrooms, and sauté 10 minutes more, or until vegetables are tender.

3. Stir in tomatoes, 1 cup water, wine, capers and oregano. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 50 to 60 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Summary

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Place cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, red onions, and garlic on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle and toss with olive oil. Season with basil and pepper.

Bake in the preheated oven until vegetables are lightly browned and easily pierced with a fork, 35 to 40 minutes.

Mediterranean Eggplant Caponata

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss chopped eggplant with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place a piece of unbleached parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Spread eggplant in one layer over the parchment paper. Bake eggplant for 25 minutes or until tender.

Step 2

Meanwhile, sauté onion, garlic and celery over medium heat in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until onions are translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and eggplant. Continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add capers, pine nuts, sugar, vinegar and chili flakes, if desired. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes are tender and vegetables are melding together.

Step 3

Garnish with minced olives. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. I suggest to bring this dip down to room temperature before you serve it.

Sicilian Eggplant Stew with Herbs (Caponata)

Delicious Sicilian eggplant stew full of Mediterranean aromas. The world-famous Caponata!

I realised that it’s been a few weeks that I haven’t used any eggplants in my dishes. That’s not me! The queen of vegetables has always a special place in my heart and plate!

The first time I tried Caponata I was…overwhelmed! It was difficult to explain what I liked from this dish. Of course, I am familiar with stews based on vegetables and tomatoes but this one was different.

I guess what makes Caponata different is the combination of vinegar and sugar. Yes, you get that “sweet and sour” taste but not in the way a Chinese pork would do! If I had to tried it for the first time, I would be reluctant to use vinegar together with tomatoes. But I guess the Sicilians know better.

As it’s a plate that celebrates the Mediterranean seasonal vegetables, you can improvise and add whatever you fancy. Maybe some zucchini? But try to stick to the basic ingredients, the eggplants, fresh tomatoes, celery and olives.

Honestly, this is such an amazing meal! Make sure you make a lot of it as it can be refrigerated for a few days. Actually, it tastes better the next day. So you have your lunches sorted!


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