Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish made with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, celery, olives, capers, and vinegar, typically served as a side dish or appetizer. It offers a beautiful balance of sweet and sour flavors and is often enjoyed cold or at room temperature.

There are several variations of the Caponata in Sicily.
 I inherited this recipe from my husband’s grandmother (nonna Maria) from Cefalu`, a charming 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.

Cefalu`

Initially, the main ingredient of the 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 827 A.C.

Eggplant

This vegetable is the basis of many Sicilian recipes. Another essential ingredient in this recipe is the tomato, imported from Christopher Columbus, returning from the Americas 700 years later.

Olives
Sicilian Caponata
Sicilian Caponata

Caponata – Original Sicilian Recipe

Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 45 mins Rest Time 30 mins Total Time 1 hr 25 mins Difficulty: Intermediate Servings: 4 Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Description

Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish made with eggplant, tomatoes, onions, celery, olives, capers, and vinegar, typically served as a side dish or appetizer. It offers a beautiful balance of sweet and sour flavors and is often enjoyed cold or at room temperature. Here's a classic recipe for Sicilian Caponata:

Ingredients

Instructions

    • Cut the eggplant into cubes and 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.
    eggplant
    • In a pan (large) fry the thinly sliced onion with the celery cut into small pieces.
    onion
    • Add the olives, and after a few minutes, add the tomatoes and capers and cook for 20 minutes.
    • Add the fried eggplant cubes, mix well, and cook for another 5 minutes.
    • Pour in the vinegar with two tablespoons of sugar. Mix well and let the vinegar evaporate at medium heat for another 15- 20 minutes.
    • Turn off the heat and let it cool.
Keywords: Caponata, Sicilian dish
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