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Sicilian Caponata

CaponataI’ve been making Sicilian Caponata for close to thirty years. My kids used to groan when I put caponata on the table, but my other half would nominate it as his all time favourite vegetable dish. My original recipe was basically ratatouille with olives and a slosh of balsamic vinegar added. It was nice, but continued reading and experimenting has led me to this current version, a huge flavour improvement on my first attempts, a delicious conglomeration of vegetables in an agrodolce sauce. Autumn is the very best time to make caponata, when the tomatoes, eggplants, red peppers and zucchini are at their best and fresh basil is still of top quality.

Caponata is delicious served hot with simple grilled meat, it’s a complete meal served with soft polenta, it makes a wonderful antipasto heaped on crostini and leftovers are delicious with a soft poached egg on top and crusty bread.

Breaking away from tradition, sometimes I add chunks of steamed potato, and sometimes a drained can of cannelini beans. This turns the caponata into a hearty meal.

3 tablespoons of good olive oilcaponata ingreds

1 large red capsicum, chopped into 3cm squares

1 eggplant, cut into 3 cm dice

6 ripe tomatoes, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/4 cup chopped black olives

1 tablespoons anchovies, chopped

2 tablespoons capers, rinsedcaponata add ins

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon brown sugar

Good grinding of black pepper

2 zucchini, cut into 3cm dice

2 cups fresh basil leaves, loosely packed

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)


Heat the oil in a large heavy based pan. Add the chopped peppers, and sauté over a medium heat until they begin to colour.

Add the eggplants, cover and allow the vegetables to sweat for a further 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic and anchovies and continue to cook until the tomatoes have collapsed and the anchovies have melted into the sauce.

Add the vinegar, olives, capers, then season to taste with salt, pepper and sugar. The sauce should be a mellow balance of sweet and sour.

Stir until all the ingredients are incorporated, then add the zucchinis and cook for a further 5 minutes. They should still be al dente.

Remove the caponata from the heat, stir in the basil leaves and pine nuts if you are using them.

This is serve 6 people as an accompaniment.

caponata done close


About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

10 comments on “Sicilian Caponata

  1. Pingback: Crunchy Polenta, Caponata, Poached Egg | Please Pass the Recipe

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  3. marymtf
    April 18, 2013

    How could I not have even heard of this delicious sounding dish before? Olives, capers and anchovies, in one dish for heaven’s sake – they are only my most favourite things.


    • ladyredspecs
      April 18, 2013

      The first time I ever made this was from the original Aust Womens Weekly Italian cookbook in the early 80s, I was very adventurous. I make a far more authentic version now, try it before the autumn veg lose there flavour!


  4. Leah
    April 16, 2013

    oh I do love this dish… I have memories of eating it with semolina gnocci as a child…. thank you for sharing it again.


    • ladyredspecs
      April 17, 2013

      My pleasure. This may be a little different to what you remember, more complex. Still a big favourite here, though I haven’t served it with semolina gnocchi for years! Xx


  5. ChgoJohn
    April 15, 2013

    Oh how I enjoy caponata! It is a favorite dish of Summer and why I cannot wait for the farmers markets to open. I’ve never tried serving leftovers with a poached egg but I have used them in a frittata. I don’t think one would go wrong trying it either way. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe.


    • ladyredspecs
      April 15, 2013

      Love to share, thanks for commenting! Caponata with a poached egg on top is sublime, I urge you to try it out!


  6. ohlidia
    April 15, 2013

    I love caponata but I must confess… I’ve only ever had it store-bought in a tin or glass jar. This was something my dad didn’t make and purchased instead. I can only imagine what freshly-made tastes like. Can’t wait to try yours when it’s my Autumn time!!


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