Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Served

This Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Recipe Is An Easy Favorite

This easy Sicilian Eggplant Caponata recipe is my favorite way to enjoy melanzane and this relish can easily be served as a topping for bread and crackers.

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Ready To Eat

When I was first introduced to caponata, which is a Sicilian eggplant relish, it was part of an antipasto platter we enjoyed for years (decades actually) at an Italian restaurant in Niagara Falls. It was one of many flavors that I grew to enjoy with my family during our annual springtime gathering, but it wasn’t easy to find at other restaurants.

Colander – 5 Qt.

OXO makes some great products that really take the home cook into account and this colander is no exception.

I later learned how easy this recipe is to make, so I was able to make it myself for my family, or I would have to wait to eat it at a restaurant when we would travel to Italy. It is a great vegetarian dish that has a ton of flavor and can be used as a spread on toast or a dip with some hearty crackers.

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Ingredients

Kitchen Tools And Cookware

We are proud to be an Amazon Affiliate, so If you are looking for some amazing products, please click on the links below as we have compiled a list of some of our favorite equipment. As an Amazon Associate, we at Saturdays In Rome earn commissions from qualifying purchases, but there are no added costs for you. For this recipe, and others, check out some of our recommended cookware and kitchen tools.

Pasta MakerGnocchi BoardPasta BoardRavioli Maker
Ravioli Press/StamperRicerBialetti Pasta PotBamboo Cutting Board Set of 3
Silpat Baking MatSantoku KnifeMeasuring Cups and SpoonsStainless Mixing Bowls
Dutch OvenMesh StrainersStainless ColanderStainless Steel Fry Pan

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Variations and Recommendation

There are some variations of this recipe, but it is surprisingly consistent across a wide variety of authors and websites. One of the biggest variations is how to get that sweet and acid flavor, which in addition to vinegar for the acid, can include sugar or chocolate for the sweet.

This recipe doesn’t really include the sweet as much for two reasons:

  1. I prefer acidic foods and 
  2. Adding chocolate to this sounds pretty gross, so I will go without.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Classic Dish

All that said, here are some options you might consider:

  • Eggplant: There are a wide variety of eggplants that you can use with this dish, and don’t hesitate to try any one that interests you. The rounder eggplants were available for me, so I chose those, but any would work.
  • Eggplant Preparation: The process of purging the eggplant is important. Removing as much water as possible will result in a firmer vegetable when it is being sauteed. If you want to try it without using the purge process, it will still work, but it will be a bit more mushy. It is less important for a relish like this since you will simply spread it on toast or crackers, but try it both ways and see which way you prefer.
  • Tomato Sauce: I don’t prefer a chunkier tomato sauce, but in this case it is necessary. I chose what is called a “Rustic” sauce here in Italy, but what you want is chunky, diced or even whole tomatoes that you crush with a fork. It will cook a little and break down the chunks, but you will also have a nice texture remaining.
  • Sugar: The sweet and acid combination is key to this dish, so every recipe I have seen includes sugar, but I skipped it. I prefer something more acidic, like a tomato sauce or a vinegar and oil dressing, but it does add a great contrasting flavor. Totally up to you, but just don’t overdo this. It isn’t a chutney.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Olives and Basil

If you would like a free copy of this recipe in PDF format, please sign up for access to our Recipe Box which contains a growing list of amazing Italian recipes discussed on this blog, including this delicious recipe.

Santoku Knife

The Santoku style knife is my favorite when I’m cooking and Victorinox makes a great one!

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Recipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Prep Time: 75 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 6-8


  • 1 medium or 2 small Eggplants
  • 1/2 lb. (225 grams) Red Peppers
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Extra-virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 lb. (340 grams) Yellow Onions
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 24 ounces (700 ml) Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. (30 ml) Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) Sugar (optional)
  • 3 stalks of Celery
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Taggiasca olives
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Capers (rinsed well if salted)
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) Fresh Basil, chiffonade
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - Browned

Purging Instructions

  1. Slice the eggplant into fingers about 1 1/2 inches (40 mm) long and place in a colander. Lightly spread salt over the pieces making sure they are all salted. Put a plate on top of the eggplant and weigh it down with something heavy, like a can of tomatoes. Set the colander in the sink and let the water drain for about 1 hour. After they have purged their water, rinse the eggplant pieces and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. 

Cooking Instructions

  1. Remove the seeds and ribs from the red pepper and dice into small pieces, about 1/2 inch, then set aside.
  2. Clean the celery stalks and remove the ends. Dice the celery into pieces about the same size as the pepper and add to the pepper.
  3. Dice the onions into small pieces, again about the same size as the peppers, and add them to the other vegetables.
  4. If you used salted capers, rinse them off well. Add the capers and olives to a cutting board and dice them together. Set aside with the crushed garlic, but not with other vegetables.
  5. After drying the eggplant pieces, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying/sauté pan over medium-high heat and fry the eggplant pieces until they are golden brown on all sides. Remove the eggplant pieces from the pan and let dry on paper towels.
  6. Over medium-low heat, gently sauté the onions, celery and red pepper until they are softened, but not browned. 
  7. Add the tomatoes, the optional sugar, the vinegar and continue cooking. Keep stirring until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes have broken down, approximately 20 minutes.
  8. Add the olives, capers and sauteed onions, celery and pepper. Then stir in the eggplant to marry all the flavors, but only for a minute or two.
  9. Remove from the heat and add the basil and salt and pepper to taste.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata - With Crackers

Serving Suggestions

This dish can be served immediately while still warm, allowed to come to room temperature or put in a refrigerator to be served cold at a future date. I enjoy it spread on toast, like a bruschetta, but my first time enjoying a traditional Sicilian Caponata was as part of an antipasti platter with cheese, meats, hot peppers and eggs. You have a lot of options, so try it any way that strikes you.

Previous Italian Recipes That Might Interest You

If you enjoyed this seasonal and delicious recipe, here are some of other fantastic recipes that you might want to try:

Similar Posts