Eggplant Caponata Shopping Tips
Italian food is about simplicity and letting the ingredients shine. So make sure you get ingredients that are great quality and flavor. Farmers markets and specialty stores will have great produce and products. Just be sure to have some great olive oil.
Eggplant Caponata Cooking Tips
Unlike other highly regarded cuisines, Italian cooking is usually simple to make with many dishes having only 4 to 8 ingredients. Italian cooks rely chiefly on the quality of the ingredients rather than on elaborate preparation.
List of Ingredients
- 2 1/4 LB. of round purple eggplant
- 1 LB. of plum tomatoes
- 1 red onion
- 1/4 CUP of white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 OZ. of celery hearts
- 1 1/2 OZ. of pine nuts
- 20 of pitted green olives, sliced
- 10 of basil leaves, torn
- 2 Tbsp. salt packed capers
- brown sugar
- extra-virgin olive oil
Cut the eggplant into 3/4” cubes. Toss with 1 Tbsp. salt and mix together with your hands place in a colander and let drain over a bowl for 30-40 minutes.
Thinly slice the onion and brown in a pan with 1/4 cup oil over low heat, for around 10 minutes.
Cut the tomatoes into wedges and remove the center section and seeds. Cut into strips. Slice the celery heart (the light, tender part in the center) and chop the leaves. Rinse the capers well under running water.
Add the tomatoes and the celery to the pan with the onions and, after 5 minutes, add the olives, capers and pine nuts.
Gently squeeze the eggplant, transfer to paper towels and dry well heat extra-virgin olive oil (2” deep) in a shallow pan and fry the eggplant in small batches for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Remove with a skimmer and add to the pan with the onions.
Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add torn basil leaves, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. sugar and, if necessary, a pinch of salt increase the heat and let vinegar evaporate, then remove from heat and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Ideally, prepare a day in advance.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound Japanese or other small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- ⅓ cup dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook eggplant, onion, garlic, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pepper, stirring frequently, until onion is slightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes, water, wine, and bay leaf. Simmer, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender and mixture is thickened, 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, capers, and vinegar. Let cool 30 minutes, then discard bay leaf. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
But if you love Eggplant like I do, why should it be limited to just one dish that you have sporadically? Why not try and incorporate such a tasty and healthy vegetable into more dishes. That’s why I’ve put together this list of the ultimate 15 best eggplant recipes any eggplant lover must try!
Roasted Eggplant -Spend with Pennies
Roasted eggplants make for a delicious treat. With its smoky flavor and luscious creaminess, this is incredibly simple to prepare. Whether you follow a plant-based diet or you like to pair meat with your vegetables, roasted eggplants are undeniably a good side dish to any meal. It’s light, tasty, and will open up your appetite. You can also use the eggplants that you’ve roasted as an ingredient to salads or as a delicious addition to your panini.
If you love eggplant parmesan but looking for a lighter fare, then the roasted eggplants with tomato and feta cheese is your best bet. The smoky aroma of the eggplant, the richness of the tomato sauce, and the tangy saltiness of feta cheese take center stage in this appetizing eggplant recipe dish.
Eggplant Sandwiches -Sunny Little Kitchen
I particularly love this eggplant sandwich recipe mainly because it’s a vegan option to a healthy dish. By using fresh quality bread as the base, you can create a panini that rivals the savory flavor of a meat-based sandwich. The roasted eggplant is a great alternative to meat and dairy cheese. Meanwhile the leaves, cucumber, and tomatoes provide texture to the sandwich. Slather the vegan mayo to add a layer of silkiness, and you’ve got a refreshing mid-day meal.
Eggplant Parm Soup -Joyful Scribblings
Flavorful and warm, this eggplant parm soup is the perfect companion for brunch or on cold winter nights. It has a similar flavor palette as eggplant parmesan but with a lighter touch. I especially love to pair this eggplant recipe soup with a warm bread for dinner as a meal. You can also enjoy this with a light salad, making it a delicious opening to a hearty lunch.
When I’m craving for a Middle Eastern fare, this is definitely one of my go-to recipes. The burst of flavors are just satisfyingly endless starting from the eggplants up to the stuffing. This specific recipe uses pomegranate, olives, lemon, herbs, and the eggplant’s flesh as stuffing. These are then whipped into the food processor. With its intense flavor and fancy aesthetics, this recipe is surprisingly easy to create and visually stunning to look at.
Out of all the different variations of the Sicilian Caponata eggplant recipes, this specific one is probably my favorite. It has a rich flavor and all-vegetable ingredients which I love. Combined with potatoes and bell peppers, you can put this on top of a toasted ciabatta. Pair off with a Sicilian red wine and you have a satisfying and healthy appetizer.
Eggplant Street Tacos – This Florida Mom
Although I wouldn’t have naturally chosen eggplant, it does lend a unique flavor combo with the seasoning. This recipe is also ideal if you’re craving for taco but looking for a meatless alternative. You can also add other veggie options such as lettuce, onion, and tomatoes. Sprinkle cheese, sour cream, and balsamic glaze for that sweet kick. This is a good option on days when you want a unique dinner or a savory snack.
Eating this eggplant recipe transports me to memories of quaint Italian towns. The burst of marinara, ricotta, herb, Parmesan, and lemon flavors in every roll is undeniably satisfying. The charred eggplant lends an earthy taste. Meanwhile, the creaminess of ricotta and the Parmesan provide texture to the dish. Lastly, the velvety lightness of the marinara and the elegant fragrance of the herbs all contribute to how savory this appetizer is.
Goat Cheese and Bacon Eggplant Rolls -Play Party Plan
One of the eggplant recipes for rolls that have caught my attention would be this one. The light smoky palate of the grilled eggplant works perfectly well with bacon and goat cheese. The combination of the crumbliness of the goat cheese and the crunchiness of the pine nuts creates interesting textures. Truly a party-in-your mouth dish that you can savor as your main entree or an appetizer to grilled chicken.
Baba Ganoush – It’s Not Complicated
A simple and elegant version of the Baba Ganoush, this specific eggplant recipe is perfect for those with dietary requirements. It’s gluten-free, nut-free, and 100% vegan. To create this amazingly good dip, you’ll need to make sure that your eggplant flesh is almost off-the-skin soft. This will give your Baba Ganoush an ideal base for that smooth and creamy texture. Add tahini and lemon, and you’ve got a versatile thick sauce that works as a dip or a spread to your appetizers and main dishes.
Georgian Eggplant Rolls with Walnut -Happy Kitchen
Creamy and crunchy with a hint of herby flavor, this is one of the eggplant recipes that’s satisfyingly good and quick to make. All you need is eggplant, walnut, and khmeli suneli, a Georgian plum sauce seasoning, and a few choice herbs. With these, you can easily re-create this savory and healthy appetizer.
A crowd favorite, the eggplant parmesan is definitely a staple in any list of eggplant recipes. This Tuscan-inspired recipe has all the makings of a satisfyingly great meal. The al dente pasta lends a chewy texture to the dish while the fried eggplant gives off a smoky palate. Bring in the tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan, and you’ve got a filling dinner that’s oozing with flavor and character.
Simple and easy to make. Best of all, this particular eggplant lasagna uses low carb and keto friendly ingredients so you can indulge to your heart’s content. Since you won’t be using pasta in this one, the roasted eggplant will be the alternative to the noodle layer of the regular lasagna. Layered with marinara sauce, Italian herbs and spices, and three types of cheeses, you have a tasty dish that only has 6 grams of net carbs per serving.
Tomato soup is a great soul food and this variation with eggplant added into the mix hits the spot. For this recipe, the tomato is not pureed. Instead, it is chopped and mixed alongside eggplant, onions, and bell pepper, and cooked in a pot under 30 minutes. Warm, flavorful, and appetizing, you can serve this as an elegantly simple dinner or as a starter before a heavier a meal.
Eggplant as taco shell? Sounds tasty and it definitely is. The best part is that you can skip the carbohydrate-laden traditional taco shell, so you can indulge a bit more. The roasted eggplant lends a meaty flavor as the base to your shredded chicken, cilantro, avocado, and salsa. If you are looking for a vegan option, you can skip the chicken meat, since the rest of the ingredients are already flavorful and full of texture on their own.
If you are looking to extend your repertoire of eggplant recipes, then make sure to try these incredible recipes. The great thing about eggplants is that they are versatile as an ingredient. They are also great alternatives to meat especially when grilled or roasted. What a fun and healthy way to enjoy your favorite dishes!
The Best Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
On our last night in Sicily, we came home from a long day at the beach to a house filled with the amazing aroma of traditional Sicilian flavors. The team at Don Venerando had been busy cooking all evening. When you stay at a Thinking Traveller’s villa, you can cook for yourself, or request anything you want for dinner. We opted for traditional Sicilian cuisine so that we could have an authentic experience.
Dinner included an antipast i of simple grilled eggplant and eggplant caponata . We also had the best almond pesto pasta (get the recipe here). The caponata was gone quickly. We all scooped it up with pieces of bread and even just began eating it by itself with a fork – it was that good! The caponata was made with large pieces of fried eggplant and red peppers, it melted in our mouths.
Even if you’re not a big fan of caponata, this one is like no other we’ve ever had. It wasn’t mushy or finely diced. We’ve had caponata before, but never like this. What’s the secret? They shared their caponata recipe below. When frying at home, we also like to use peanut oil as it has a high smoking point, and tends to not smell as much when frying. If you’re looking for more eggplant recipes, try our baked easy eggplant parmesan recipe here, and be sure to get our free Italian recipe book here.
What is a Caponata?
Caponata is an eggplant based dish made with few ingredients, that gets even better overnight! It’s meant to be served at room temperature, but I would also eat it straight from the fridge. My grandma always told me that the secret to this dish is using the best ingredients available, so that’s why we added Mezzetta’s capers and green olives, which really helped elevating the flavors and made our dish come to life.
There are a lot of variations to the caponata recipe, depending on the region and family tradition. Today I will share with you my grandma’s recipe, which also includes raisins and bell peppers for a delicious sweet & sour dish.
Eggplant Caponata Crostini
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
Prep Time: 25 minutes, plus 1 hour draining time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes, plus 1 hour draining time
1½ pounds (1 medium) eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
3 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons minced green olives
1 baguette, cut on a bias into ½-inch slices (at least 24 slices)
¼ cup, plus 1 tablespoon, olive oil, divided
½ medium yellow onion, minced
1 medium heirloom tomato, cored and cut into ½-inch dice
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced basil
2 tablespoons thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of salt to coat. Transfer to a colander and place over the large bowl to let drain for 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, raisins, capers, olives and brine, then set aside.
3. On a sheet tray, lay out the baguette slices and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toast in the oven until golden and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool.
4. Once the eggplant has sat for an hour, heat the remaining ¼ cup of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions, and cook until softened, with the edges beginning to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Add the eggplant and the tomato, and cook until the eggplant is tender, another 5 to 6 minutes. Add the vinegar mixture with the pine nuts, parsley, basil, thyme, honey and lemon zest, and toss to combine, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
6. Season with salt, then remove from the heat. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the caponata onto each crostino, garnish with thyme leaves and ricotta salata , then serve.
You’re Doing It Wrong: Eggplant
In its natural state, eggplant is tough, spongy, and bitter—pretty vile, all in all. Generally, vegetables (especially ones with a reputation for being vile) do not benefit from overcooking—think fetid Brussels sprouts, gray peas, floppy asparagus. Eggplant is the opposite: Its unpleasantness is directly correlated with how undercooked it is. I would rather go hungry than eat a grill-marked yet stiff slice of eggplant—which is how eggplant is traditionally served in workplace cafeterias, airport sandwich kiosks, and other venues that don’t pride themselves on their vegetarian offerings. But eggplant so mushy it falls apart when you so much as prod at it gently with a finger? Eggplant so tender that stabbing it with a fork with your eyes closed feels no different from stabbing a patch of empty space? Now we’re talking.
Cooking eggplant until it’s quiveringly soft will only take you so far, though. There’s still the issue of flavor to address—and though cooked eggplant is less bitter than raw eggplant, its mild earthiness isn’t known for making mouths water. But that fundamental blandness is a perfect foil for more assertive ingredients. The best complement for eggplant is some combination of sweet, salty, and tangy. (It goes without saying that fat doesn’t hurt, either.) There are a few ways of achieving this combination: Think of takeout Chinese eggplant, lacquered with a glaze containing soy sauce, sugar, and rice vinegar, for instance. But the best preparation of eggplant is one that not only maximizes its flavor potential but also takes advantage of that silky texture: eggplant caponata.
This Sicilian spread (also perfectly respectable served as a salad) is the savory equivalent of a kitchen-sink cookie you’ll find no recipe that combines olives, capers, raisins, sugar, lemon, and parsley to greater effect. Its technique is no less unconventional: First you fry eggplant in copious amounts of olive oil (extra-virgin works, though you have to take care to keep it from smoking light olive oil is also fine). Then you combine the eggplant with moist ingredients and serve it cool. Typically, fried foods are best served fresh out of the frying pan—but caponata’s delayed-gratification approach works precisely because the eggplant becomes super-soft, rather than crisp, when fried. (Frying also happens to be a much faster way of making eggplant meltingly tender than roasting, grilling, or baking.)
The frying process has to occur in a few batches, since the biggest mistake you can make while frying is to overcrowd your ingredients in the oil. This means caponata demands a leisurely attitude, more “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart” than “Kamera.” It’s a weekend-afternoon project, not a weeknight one—and, appropriately, it’s the perfect thing to serve atop bruschetta at your next weekend cocktail party.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1½ to 1¾ hours
Olive oil for frying
2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup tomato paste
3 fresh Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ cup chopped green olives
⅓ cup raisins
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons capers
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
¼ cup pine nuts
1 small bunch parsley, chopped, thick stems discarded
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Put 1½ inches of olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium-high heat. Add a cube of the eggplant to the oil to test whether it’s hot enough the oil should sizzle. Working in batches, add the eggplant and fry, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fully tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, and season with salt.
2. Carefully strain the oil into a glass container and wipe out the pot. Return ¼ cup of the oil to the pan over medium-high heat (reserve the rest for another use), and add the onion, celery, and garlic season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly caramelized, about 3 minutes.
3. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, olives, raisins, vinegar, sugar, capers, crushed red pepper, and ¼ cup water. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes begin to break down, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, put the pine nuts in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Turn off the heat under the tomato mixture, and stir in the pine nuts, parsley, lemon juice, and eggplant. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Cool to room temperature and serve. (Store leftover caponata in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to several days.)
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces eggplant
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3/4 cup chopped white onion
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 2 tablespoons chopped drained capers
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Calories 134
- Fat 7g
- Satfat 1g
- Unsatfat 6g
- Protein 2g
- Carbohydrate 16g
- Fiber 4g
- Sugars 10g
- Added sugars 0g
- Sodium 218mg
- Calcium 3% DV
- Potassium 9% DV
Sicilian eggplant caponata recipe
The authentic Sicilian eggplant caponata recipe is a sautéed eggplant side dish with tomato, olives, capers, vinegar, and almonds – or pine nuts.
My childhood was a delicious vegetarian adventure. Full of eggplants and Sicilian recipes: the ones my grandmother tough my mom to feed her only figlio maschio/ son.
Eggplant nights were my favorite: cheesy parmigiana , stuffed eggplants, or pasta con le melanzane . And the queen of them all: la caponata ! Served with crusty Italian bread and a salad, or with a cheese plate and a few bruschettas, the Sicilian eggplant caponata recipe was a delicious dinner saver for a vegetarian Italian family.
I found and adapted to my family traditions the authentic eggplant caponata recipe of a wonderful book I recommend, Sicilia in cucina: the flavors of Sicily . Their recipe has toasted almonds , but pine nuts are a delicious and popular choice too – and what my nonna and I preferred.