Caponata is a traditional dish of Sicilian cuisine. This is the original recipe.
I invited my friend Elisabetta from Latina (Lazio, Italy) with her husband. She likes the Caponata, an “antipasto” but it can be also served as a side dish.
There are several variations of the Caponata in Sicily.
I inherited this recipe from my husband’s grandmother (nonna Maria) from Cefalu`,
a very beautiful seaside tourist town that is part of the “Parco delle Madonie”
(The Madonie Regional Natural Park) and is included among the most beautiful villages in Italy.
Originally the main ingredient of Caponata recipe was not eggplant but rather a prized fish in Sicily, it’s called Capone, and in other parts of Italy it’s called Lampuga.
This dish was beloved by the aristocrats who lived in the beautiful palaces on the island, but it was unreachable for the poor who could not afford the luxury of buying an ingredient so valuable. So they replaced the Capone with eggplant. The eggplant, a vegetable not known before in Sicily, was imported by the Arabs during their invasion of Sicily in the year 827 A.C.
This vegetable is the basis of many Sicilian recipes. Another very important ingredient in this recipe is the tomato, imported from Christopher Columbus returning from the Americas 700 years later.
Caponata – Original Sicilian Recipes
- 4 large Italian heirloom eggplants
- 400 g peeled tomatoes cut into cubes 14 oz
- 150 g green olives pitted 5.3 oz
- 90 g salted capers 3.2 oz
- 1 medium onion
- 2 celery stalks
- 90 ml white balsamic vinegar 1/3 cup
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Cut the eggplant into cubes, leave them in salted water for 20-30 minutes.
- Drain the eggplant cubes (I squeeze them with my hand) and fry them in hot oil.
- Drain them in a strainer and set them aside.
- In a pan (large) fry the thinly sliced onion with the celery cut into small pieces.
- Add the olives, and, after a few minutes, add the tomatoes, capers and cook for 20 minutes.
- Add the fried eggplant cubes and mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour in vinegar with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Mix well and let evaporate at medium heat the vinegar for another 15- 20 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let cool.