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caponata in a pan with fresh basil as garnish. wood spoon in the pan.

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Recipe

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5 from 3 reviews

Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Recipe (Easy)– Bursting with the bold flavors, vegetables, and aromas that define Mediterranean cuisine, this beloved Italian dish is wonderful for any occasion.

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 2 large eggplants, diced into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 23 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 cup green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 34 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish


  1. Prepare the Eggplant: Place the diced eggplant in a colander, sprinkle with salt, and let it sit for about 30 minutes. This helps to remove excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. After 30 minutes, rinse the eggplant thoroughly and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. Sauté the Eggplant: In a large skillet, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced eggplant and sauté until they are golden brown and tender. This might need to be done in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once cooked, remove the eggplant from the skillet and set it aside.
  3. Prepare the Sauce: In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of olive oil if needed. Add the chopped onion and celery. Sauté until they are softened and slightly translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. 
  4. Add Tomatoes and Flavorings: Add the can of diced tomatoes (with their juice) to the skillet. Stir in the green olives, capers, sugar, golden raisins, diced red bell pepper, and red wine vinegar. Allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Combine Eggplant and Sauce: Add the sautéed eggplant to the skillet with the sauce. Gently mix everything together and let it simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. If the mixture seems too dry, you can add a splash of water.
  6. Adjust Seasoning: Taste and season the caponata with salt and pepper according to your preference. Remember that the olives and capers are already salty, so be cautious with the additional salt.
  7. Finish and Garnish: Once the caponata is cooked and the flavors have developed, remove it from the heat. Stir in the toasted pine nuts. Allow the caponata to cool to room temperature.
  8. Serve: Before serving, garnish the caponata with torn fresh basil leaves. Enjoy caponata as a standalone appetizer, a topping for crostini (small crust toasted bread slices), or a side dish with grilled meats or fish.

Storage: Caponata tastes even better when allowed to sit for a few hours or overnight, giving the flavors time to meld. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian