This eggplant caponata is a classic Italian dish made with eggplant, celery, fennel, zucchini, garlic, onion, tomatoes, and olives and is finished with almonds and pine nuts.
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H, 30 M
- Serves 6 to 8
In a bowl, toss the eggplant with the salt. Transfer to to a colander or strainer and place over the bowl. Let drain for I hour.
Rinse the eggplant well and pat it dry with paper towels.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. In a large, preferably nonstick pot or skillet over medium heat, warm 1/2 cup oil until hot but not smoking. Add the eggplant and sauté until nicely golden brown on all sides and sorta tender, about 10 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to the baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.
Add the celery and the fennel to the pot or skillet and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sauté for 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the paper towels along with the eggplant.
Add the remaining oil to the pot or skillet and, still over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion until golden, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, olives, capers, raisins, vinegar, and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
Return the reserved eggplant, celery, fennel, and zucchini to the tomato mixture and cook for 10 minutes, stirring or folding the vegetables occasionally and ever so gently so as not to break up the pieces and turn the mixture to mush. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Carefully transfer the eggplant caponata to a wide, shallow dish and let it cool for 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to several days.
About 1 hour before serving the eggplant caponata, remove it from the refrigerator, and bring it to room temperature. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, almonds, and basil just before serving. Originally published September 30, 2010.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This eggplant caponata is full of flavor and textures and is good with grilled meats or as an entree for a vegetarian meal. My husband normally turns his nose at eggplant, but he actually complimented this dish—plus he had seconds!
Give yourself plenty of time to make this dish; it doesn’t come together quickly, so you really want to make sure that you can put it in the fridge for the suggested 8 hours to let all the flavors meld. This recipe says that it serves eight, although I would say it’s more like 10 or 12.
I love both the versatility of a traditional Sicilian eggplant caponata as well as its sweet, salty, and tangy flavor combination. Whether as a topping for bruschetta, tossed into al dente pasta, or as a sauce for grilled protein, the colorful combination of eggplant, tomatoes, olives, capers, and basil with a touch of vinegar is sure to please any palate!
This particular recipe was attractive to me because in addition to its classic ingredients, it also had fennel, zucchini, and raw almonds, which were all new to me! The more veggies the better, in my opinion, but I loved the combination of pine nuts and raw almonds that are added at the last minute for crunch.
I had some ripe red slicing tomatoes from the garden on hand, so those are what I used here; and I used organic golden raisins in the sauce as well. I think with such a traditional recipe like this one, it's super important to follow the steps very closely! You can tell this is a tried-and-true recipe by all of its descriptive steps; if followed correctly, the results will be just perfect. Each step seemed to be very perfectly timed in terms of cooking each portion of ingredients. Just a note, cooking the eggplant separately first in oil until golden brown really gives the eggplant a silken texture that's just lovely.
I allowed the caponata to cool for 1 hour and then spooned it into shallow bowls and topped it with the grilled salmon fillets. Served with a mellow glass of Italian red wine and a fresh summer salad of cucumbers, feta, radishes, and watercress, we were in for a treat!
I used the caponata last night as a sauce for some grilled salmon fillets and plan to use the rest tossed with fettuccine.