Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Sicilian caponata or eggplant stew
( Caponata di melanzane )

Authentic Italian recipe from Sicily

Sicilian caponata or eggplant (aubergine) dish is a tasty mixture of vegetables. Start a typical Italian meal or dress your pasta with it. It's also a tasty side dish. My tip is to prepare caponata only in the right season, summer and early fall, when you can find the best-quality eggplants and tomatoes. But be careful: someone says that after August eggplants are not good for this recipe. This is a laborious dish and so I always make a great quantity of it, so then I can use it in a lot of ways and preserve in the fridge for some days. Vegan recipe and typical recipe from Mediterranean diet.

difficulty: easy

time: 1 h 40 minutes

calories: 155 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 12

  • 4 medium eggplants (aubergines), sliced lengthways with their skin
  • 6 celery sticks, diced
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 5 really ripe red tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 150g (5 1/2 ounces) green olives, stoned
  • 2 tablespoons capers in salt, rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 130ml (1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper (or dried chilly)
easy recipe
preparation: 40 minutes
plus 1 h for eggplants to lose bitter flavor
cooking: 60 minutes
total: 1 h 40 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 155 (kcal) 8 % - 649 (kJ)
Protein: 2.6 (g) 6 % GDA
Total fat: 12.7 (g) 19 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 7.9 (g) 3 % GDA
Sugars: 7.8 (g) 9 % GDA

Download free PDF version (364 download).

Caponata or Italian eggplant dish recipe

Preparation and cooking

  • - Prepare all vegetables.
    Place eggplants in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let them disgorge, about 1 hour.
    At the end rinse them and pat dry.
    Dice them.
    Meanwhile place celery in a little saucepan and cover with salted cold water.
    Bring to a boil and cook, about 5 minutes.
    Drain it very well.
  • - Cooking caponata.
    Fry eggplants slightly in olive oil, in a very large non-stick frying pan, on very low heat, stirring frequently until golden brown. Cooking time depends on dice size.
    Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    In the same oil fry onions and celery slightly.
    Add tomatoes, halved olives and capers.
    Season with salt and pepper (if liked) and cook gently until soft, about 5 minutes.
    Add eggplants too and cook, stirring gently 4 to 5 times, about ten minutes.
    Sprinkle your caponata with sugar and pour in vinegar.
    Cook for other 3 to 4 minutes.

Just before serving

  • - Garnish with basil.
    Your dish is ready to serve.
  • - Serve caponata warm or cold.



  • - Generally, I use 100ml (about 7 tablespoons) of olive oil for the first part, that is for frying eggplants, and add the rest when I remove my eggplants and put onions and celery in the same pan. Otherwise, the risk is eggplants can absorb all the olive oil and so to use more than the expected amount.
  • - You can replace a part of eggplants with other vegetables, such as zucchini (known also as courgettes or squashes) or sweet peppers. But you can use the same method only for zucchini or bell peppers. My grandmother from Abruzzo was used to do bell pepper caponata. It is delicious!

Menu planning

  • - Eggplant caponata is a real Italian recipe from Sicily you can serve in different ways.
    It can be a tasty starter.
    You can accompany fish or meat recipes with caponata as side dish.
    You can eat as one-plate meal increasing its portion.
    You can use caponata as pasta sauce. I make a delicious pasta salad this way.
    You can top grilled slices of bread or polenta (Italian crostini and tartine). If you find preserved eggplant caponata, it may be a finger food for all year round.

Useful links for this recipe

Healthy eating

  • - As you have just read, I have considered 12 servings that, by the way, are very abundant and work well as appetizer or side dish.
    If you want to serve it as a vegetarian main course in summer, your portions should be increased but beware of total fats that increase significantly thanks to the abundance of oil needed to fry eggplants.
    So this is a particular aspect of eggplants to keep in mind: the tendency to absorb a lot of oil. It's so true that there is a version of caponata with eggplants cooked in the oven. This is tasty but has a completely different flavor. The choice is yours!
  • - Fiber per serving are only 3.9 grams.


What's the right wine for " Sicilian caponata or eggplant stew "?

Choose a red wine from Sicily for eggplantcaponata such as Sedara by Donnafugata. It's OK for your BBQ party too.

Are you interested in other recipes or wines from Sicily?

A little history

The term caponata has an etymology about which there were and still are many controversies. Maybe it comes from the Latin caupona, tavern. In any case, it designated a plate that could be poor if formed only by vegetables or richer for the addition of fish. An evidence, once again, of the different way of eating according to the various social classes. The Neapolitan cookbook by Ippolito Cavalcanti, in the nineteenth century, shows this term and combined it with fish too.
It is a dish of Mediterranean flavor thanks to its ingredients.