Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Like a Sicilian version of ratatouille, Eggplant Caponata is a classic Italian dish made with garlic, onion, tomato, vinegar, capers, pine nuts, olives and of course — fresh eggplant! Serve the healthy and delicious spread as a dip with crusty bread or crackers, or use the relish as a sauce for pasta or a topper for chicken, shrimp and fish. It’s a hearty vegetarian recipe that has been a family favorite for as long as I can remember!

Close up front shot of a bowl of eggplant caponata served with crusty bread for dipping

This easy eggplant caponata is full of fresh vegetables, garlic, pine nuts, capers, and olives, giving the dish a rich depth of flavor and a nice variety of textures. It’s so satisfying! Whether you’re serving a vegetarian (or vegan) guest, or just looking to add more veggies to your diet, the simple relish is a delicious place to start.

What is Caponata?

Think of eggplant caponata as the Sicilian version of ratatouille. It’s generally served as a side dish, salad or relish. Caponata is a delicious spread for sandwiches, a flavorful sauce for pasta, and a tasty dip with bread or crackers. While every home cook has her own favorite recipe, typical caponata ingredients include eggplant, onions, tomatoes, olives, pine nuts, capers, and vinegar, all cooked together in olive oil. Oftentimes caponata contains something sweet like raisins or a touch of sugar.

What’s the difference between Eggplant Caponata and Ratatouille?

Ratatouille is a popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs — all simmered in olive oil. The main ingredients and the cooking process are very similar in both ratatouille and caponata. The primary distinction between the two dishes is the briny taste of caponata, which comes from the olives, the tangy vinegar, and the salty capers.

Overhead shot of eggplant caponata in a blue ceramic bowl

How to make Eggplant Caponata:

This recipe comes from my mom, who has been making the dish for as long as I can remember. She always called it “eggplant caviar” when we were growing up, and the dish remains one of my brother’s very favorite recipes to this day. Coming from a meat-loving, 6-foot-3 guy, that’s saying a lot! Mom’s Eggplant Caponata is so rich, so flavorful and so satisfying — you’ll never even notice that it’s also a healthy vegetarian dish.

Eggplant Caponata Ingredients:

  • Eggplant
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Green olives
  • Pine nuts
  • Capers
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Sugar, salt and pepper

What type of eggplant for caponata?

I use a standard large 2-lb. globe eggplant from the grocery store for this recipe. If you can only find small eggplants, you can use 2 1-lb. eggplants instead. If you have access to a Sicilian eggplant (or “Italian eggplant”), that would be even more authentic for this caponata recipe! Sicilian eggplants look similar to standard globe eggplants, but they’re slightly smaller and the flesh tends to be more tender.

Fresh eggplant on a wooden table

Step 1: Chop

Place the eggplant, onion and garlic in a food processor and pulse to finely chop. You may need to do this in two separate batches, depending on the size of your processor.

Overhead shot of eggplant onions and garlic in food processor

Step 2: Sauté

Cook the eggplant, onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. This will take about 10 minutes over medium-high heat.

Sauteeing eggplant onion and garlic in a large skillet

Step 3: Add Remaining Ingredients

Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the green olives, capers, pine nuts, tomato paste, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.

Process shot of making eggplant caponata in a skillet

Step 4: Cook

Cover the skillet and cook for about one hour, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, taste the caponata and season with additional sugar, salt or pepper, as necessary.

Caponata in a skillet with a wooden spoon

What do you eat caponata with?

This is such a versatile dish, which you can prepare in advance and serve at room temperature.

How to serve caponata:

  • As an appetizer or a snack served with crusty bread, crackers, pita, or raw veggies. This also works as a light lunch or dinner option — especially on hot days!
  • Crostini: Toast slices of baguette, spread with goat cheese, and top with eggplant caponata.
  • Relish: Add a dollop of the caponata on grilled fish, grilled shrimp or grilled chicken.
  • Pasta Sauce: The rich tomato flavor in this eggplant caponata is very reminiscent of other Italian tomato pasta sauces. Use the caponata with pasta, just like you would use marinara or pesto.
  • Pizza or Flatbread: Spread the sauce on pizza dough and top with cheese. It adds so much flavor that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a normal tomato sauce.
  • Sandwich Spread: Swap out your mayo or mustard and spread the caponata on your sandwich bread. It would also work well as a substitute for the olive tapenade on a muffuletta sandwich.
Close overhead shot of a blue bowl of eggplant caponata

Preparation and Storage Tips – Caponata Siciliana Recipe:

  • Make Ahead: Caponata is typically served at room temperature, but it’s also great cold (straight from the fridge) or warm. You can prepare the recipe in advance and keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It just gets better as it sits and the flavors come together.
  • Freeze the eggplant caponata in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag for up to 3 months.
  • Some eggplant caponata recipes include anchovies and/or raisins. Feel free to add either of those ingredients in your dish, too!
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the vegetables by hand (it will just take longer).
Overhead image of a bowl of caponata on a wooden table with fresh parsley garnish

More eggplant recipes that you might enjoy:

Close up front shot of a bowl of eggplant caponata served with crusty bread for dipping

Eggplant Caponata

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 10 minutes
0 minutes
Total: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings 10 (½ -cup servings)
Calories 110 kcal
Like a Sicilian version of ratatouille, Eggplant Caponata is a classic Italian dish made with garlic, onion, tomato, vinegar, capers, pine nuts, olives and of course — fresh eggplant!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large eggplant (about 2 lbs.), cut into large chunks (but not peeled)
  • 1 onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup green olives, chopped
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons capers
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Place eggplant, onion and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped (but not completely pureed).
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer eggplant, onion and garlic to the oil and sauté until soft (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low; add green olives, capers, pine nuts, tomato paste, water, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook, covered, for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste and season with additional salt, pepper or sugar, as needed. You can stir in additional water to thin the dip until it reaches the desired consistency. Serve at room temperature, warm or cold.

Notes

  • Make Ahead: Caponata is typically served at room temperature, but it’s also great cold (straight from the fridge) or warm. You can prepare the recipe in advance and keep it stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It just gets better as it sits and the flavors come together.
  • Freeze the eggplant caponata in an airtight container or Ziploc freezer bag for up to 3 months.
  • Some eggplant caponata recipes include anchovies and/or raisins. Feel free to add either of those ingredients in your dish, too!
  • If you don’t have a food processor, you can finely chop the vegetables by hand (it will just take longer).

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 110kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 256mgPotassium: 317mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 283IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 15mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: caponata, eggplant caponata, sicilian caponata recipe
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments