Eggplant Caponata is a classic Sicilian dish made with eggplant, olives, tomatoes, celery and lots of other flavorful ingredients. It’s a cooked salad or relish with a sweet and sour flavor, known as “agrodolce” in Italian. Adapted loosely from Deb Perelman.
- 1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
- salt, to taste
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1⁄4 cup water
- 2 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes)
- 1 cup Castelvetrano or other green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar
- 1⁄3 cup golden raisins
- 1⁄4 cup capers, drained and rinsed (don’t skip the rinse!)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1⁄2 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
- 2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted until golden and cooled
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.* (see note)
- Toss the eggplant with 1/2 cup olive oil, then spread out into an even layer on the sheet pans. Bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes, tossing once about half way through to ensure even browning. In the meantime, prep the rest of your ingredients. Transfer the browned eggplant to paper towels to drain, then sprinkle with salt.
- Heat a medium-large pot or high-sided skillet over medium heat, then add the remaining 3 tbsp olive oil and the onions and celery. Season with salt, then cook until just starting to lightly brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook for one minute more, then add tomato paste and water. Cook until the water has mostly evaporated and the tomato baste starts to caramelize. Add the tomatoes, then simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the olives, capers, vinegar, raisins and sugar, then cook until thickened, about another 15 minutes. Be sure to give it a stir every so often to prevent the bottom from burning. Turn off the heat, then add the eggplant, basil, parsley and pine nuts. Stir until everything is well combined, then taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Let cool to room temperature, then serve.
- Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- *Too hot to turn on the oven? You can pan fry the eggplant instead, which is more traditional (but a lot messier and more work in my opinion).
Keywords: caponata, eggplant, appetizer, dip, spread, salad, capers, raisins, Sicilian