Eggplant Caponata

Silky, sweet, and sour, this eggplant caponata recipe is a delicious summer appetizer. Serve it on crostini with lots of fresh basil for garnish!

Eggplant caponata on crostini

These days, our neighborhood farmers market is basically like a caponata cooking kit. Mounds of eggplants, tomatoes, and multicolored peppers fill every stall. I’m pretty pleased about it, because this Sicilian vegetable stew is one of my favorite late summer dishes. It’s tangy, briny, and lightly sweet, with a rich, silky texture that’s absolutely irresistible.

I first fell in love with caponata years ago on a trip to Italy. Jack and I ordered it as an appetizer with crusty bread and a glass of white wine almost everywhere we went. When we got home, of course I had to learn how to make my own version. This caponata recipe has been a fixture in our kitchen ever since. I hope you love it as much as we do!

Caponata recipe ingredients

Caponata Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this eggplant caponata recipe:

  • Eggplant, of course! Traditional caponata recipes start with fried eggplant, but for a lighter, hands-off shortcut, I roast it instead.
  • Celery, onion, and garlic – They add savory flavor.
  • Red bell peppers – A classic caponata ingredient!
  • Tomatoes – They create a light sauce for the other veggies.
  • Tomato paste – It thickens the fresh tomato sauce.
  • Capers – For briny flavor. Some caponata recipes call for both green olives and capers, but I find that just capers do the trick. Plus, I always have a jar in my fridge!
  • Sherry vinegar – In a pinch, red wine vinegar will work here too.
  • Cane sugar and golden raisins – For sweetness. Many eggplant caponatas are only sweetened with sugar, but I love the complexity that the raisins add to this recipe.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – For richness.
  • Fresh parsley and basil – For an aromatic finishing touch.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Mixture of sautéed tomatoes and red peppers in skillet with wooden spoon

The first step to making this recipe is roasting the eggplant.

While it’s in the oven, place the golden raisins in a small bowl with the vinegar and capers. They’ll plump up nicely in the vinegar. By the time you add them to the caponata, they’ll be soft, juicy, and full of the vinegar’s tang.

Then, sauté the aromatic veggies and cook the saucy tomato and pepper mixture. Tip: make sure to sauté the vegetables until they soften fully. This caponata recipe is best when all the veggies are tender!

Mixing roasted eggplant and capers into tomato sauce in skillet

Add the roasted eggplant, plumped raisins, vinegar, and capers to the tomato and pepper sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes to allow the eggplant to soak up the sauce’s flavors.

Finally, stir in the parsley and season to taste. Garnish with fresh basil before serving!

Bowl of eggplant caponata with spoon

How to Serve Eggplant Caponata

Though you certainly could serve eggplant caponata warm as a side dish, I like it best chilled or at room temperature. Serve it as an appetizer with crostini, or add it to a mezze platter or cheese board at a late summer gathering. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend serving it on day 2 or 3, after the flavors have had a chance to meld.

If you have leftover caponata, here are a few fun ways to use it up:

  • Toss it with pasta for a speedy weeknight meal.
  • Serve it over polenta with toasted pine nuts for crunch.
  • Pile it onto toast and top it with a poached or soft-boiled egg.
  • Slather it onto a sandwich with arugula and fresh mozzarella cheese.

How do you like to serve caponata? Let me know in the comments!

Caponata recipe

More Favorite Eggplant Recipes

If you love this caponata recipe, try one of these delicious eggplant recipes next:

Eggplant Caponata

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Serves 6 to 8
This eggplant caponata recipe is a delicious summer appetizer or side dish! My take on the sweet and sour Sicilian stew, it's fantastic chilled or at room temperature. We love it on crostini with fresh basil for garnish.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Roasted Eggplant
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 pound tomatoes, about 4 medium, cored and diced
  • ½ teaspoon cane sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  • Crostini, for serving

Instructions

  • Roast the eggplant according to this recipe.
  • In a small bowl, combine the golden raisins, vinegar, and capers. Set aside for the raisins to soften while you prepare the caponata.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Add the red pepper and salt. Cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic, tomatoes, and sugar, and cook, stirring often, for about 8 minutes, or until the tomatoes have cooked down and become saucy.
  • Add the roasted eggplant, raisins, vinegar, capers, and several grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes. Stir in the parsley and season to taste.
  • Allow the caponata to cool to room temperature. We like it best on days 2 and 3, after the flavors have had a chance to meld. Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • When ready to serve, garnish the caponata with fresh basil. Serve with crostini.

13 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Jerry Abel
    11.10.2022

    I really love your recipes. My problem is that I cannot email your recipes. Could you offer that option please?

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)
      11.11.2022

      Hi Jerry, Thanks for your feedback! That would be a great feature to add to the site.

  2. Julia Best
    09.15.2022

    5 stars
    Delicious! Made it with rice and loved all the flavours 😍

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.21.2022

      Hi Julia, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  3. AJ
    09.06.2022

    5 stars
    This recipe was AMAZING!! My first comment was, “this tastes like something from a fine restaurant.” We made it exactly as you directed, but we placed it over penne pasta and enjoyed it with a bottle of red wine. My husband and I could not get enough of this!

  4. Mary
    09.03.2022

    5 stars
    Another great eggplant recipe to have in my arsenal! I omitted the celery and substituted balsamic vinegar for the sherry vinegar. I tasted right off the stove and it’s great, good mix of textures with lots of tang from the vinegar and capers. It’s about to go in the fridge and get devoured tomorrow once my sourdough is ready. 🙂 I think I might also try it as a packed lunch with bread (to be toasted at work) and Italian herb tofu on the side for protein, or maybe as a vegan pizza topping!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.06.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  5. Susan Collison
    09.01.2022

    5 stars
    My husband’s comment: “That’s the BEST eggplant dish I’ve ever tasted!” I had fun chopping, roasting, & toasting! I had some “everything” sourdough bread that I toasted…can’t wait to eat the leftovers!!! Thank you for sharing your amazing recipes! ~Sue

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.02.2022

      Hi Sue, I’m so thrilled you both enjoyed it! I hope you love the leftovers too (we think it gets better on the second day!)

  6. Ru
    08.30.2022

    What about leaving out tomato paste? Seems like it might taste like pasta sauce with the addition of paste. Thank you

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.02.2022

      Hi Ru, it helps it thicken, we don’t think it tastes like pasta sauce. If you’d like to leave it out, it’ll be fine too.

  7. debbie
    08.30.2022

    Can I make this in a slow cooker?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.02.2022

      Hi Debbie, I haven’t tried, but I think that would work fine.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.