A delicious appetizer to serve in the Summer, this recipe for Grandma's Eggplant Caponata is made in one pot and full of eggplants, green olives, capers, and tomatoes. Serve on a piece of crostini and you have a flavorful dish for any occasion!
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What is Caponata?
My grandma used to make this caponata every Summer when Grandpa's eggplants were ripening. It's a Sicilian appetizer that is full of eggplants, celery, onions, green olives, tomatoes, and capers. It's salty, vinegary, and a little bit sweet.
Caponata is known as a Sicilian dish, but the origins are from all over Europe. The Spanish have a dish very similar to caponata. It was thought that a version of caponata was introduced in Sicily during the Arab conquests in the 9th century, so this dish goes back a long time!
I'm not claiming this to be authentic, this is just the one my grandma made for years and years and years!
Eggplant- Summer is the perfect time for eggplants. You want one that is about 2 pounds, which is one large eggplant, or two medium eggplants.
Tomato- Tomato sauce or pureed tomatoes is what you are looking for here. If you are using fresh tomatoes, just pulse them in the food process for a few seconds to puree them. The tomatoes add a depth of flavor to offset the bitterness of the eggplant and the sweetness of the sugar.
Celery- Adds a little bit of crunch and texture to the caponata.
Capers- Capers are little immature buds of the caper bush. They are often pickled in vinegar and add a bit of crunch and saltiness to the caponata.
Optional add ins- My grandma used to add pine nuts to the mix as well, and there are other recipes that add in raisins. Feel free to add both if you want to fancy it up a little!
Let's Make This Caponata!
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Make Grandma's Eggplant Caponata
- Sauté the eggplant
Cut the stem and the end off the eggplant and then peel it. I find the easiest way to peel it is with a vegetable peeler. Dice the eggplant into small pieces and add them to a sauté pan with ½ cup of the olive oil. After 2 minutes of sautéing the eggplant, add 2 tablespoons of water. This will help the eggplants soften and cook. Once the eggplant is softened, take them out of the pan and set them aside.
- Sauté the celery and onions
In the same pan, add the rest of the olive oil, the chopped celery, and the chopped onions. Add the pureed tomatoes (or tomato sauce if you are using tomato sauce), and cook until the celery and onions are tender (about 8 minutes).
- Add the rest of the ingredients
Once the celery has softened add the eggplant back to the pan, as well as the capers, olives, sugar, and vinegar. Add salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 20 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently so the mixture does not burn. Allow the caponata to cool before serving. Enjoy!
Questions about this Recipe?
It's delicious! It's an easy appetizer that can be served hot or cold. This caponata is perfect over crostini or with pita chips.
Believe it or not, this caponata freezes wonderfully! You can freeze it in a freeze safe container for up to 3 months. To defrost, simply place it in the refrigerator and enjoy it once it is completely defrosted. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days in an air tight container.
This would be a delicious start to a menu that had this Orzo Pesto Pasta Salad on it! You could serve this over chicken or fish too if you wanted to change it up and make it a main course. It's a great addition to any antipasto platter or cheese board too!
Other Recipes to Try!
Did you give Grandma's Eggplant Caponata a try? I’d love to hear from you! Give me a shout on Instagram or Facebook and share this recipe on Pinterest! And don't forget to check out some other drool worthy recipes below! Thanks for sharing this journey with me and enjoy these delicious recipes!
- Vegan Instant Pot Rice Pudding
- Lemon and Blueberry Zucchini Bread with Lemon Icing
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Zucchini
- Sheet Pan Brats with Roasted Vegetables
Grandma's Eggplant Caponata
- 1 Large Eggplant
- ¾ cup Olive Oil
- 2 Onions Diced
- ½ cup Tomato either pureed fresh tomatoes, or tomato sauce
- 4 Celery Stalks Diced
- ½ cup Green Olives Chopped
- ¼ cup Capers In Vinegar
- ½ cup Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cut off the ends of the eggplant and peel them. Dice the eggplant into small pieces.
- Add ½ cup of olive oil to a sauté pan, add the eggplant pieces, and sauté on medium heat.. Allow the eggplants to cook for 2 minutes and then add 2 tablespoons of water to help soften the eggplant. Sauté the eggplant for 10 minutes over medium heat, or until the eggplants are soft. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set them aside.
- Add the rest of the olive oil to the pan and add the chopped onions and celery. Lightly brown the celery and onions. Add the tomatoes to the mixture and cook until the celery is softened.
- Add the capers, olives, and eggplant back into the pan.
- Add the vinegar and sugar to the pan and stir. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes on medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to cool before serving.
- If you are using cherry tomatoes, puree them in a food processor before adding them to the pan. Tomato sauce out of the can or the jar would work perfectly here too.
- Optional add ins would be pine nuts and raisins. Add bell peppers or roasted red peppers to this dip to add some more color and flavor.
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