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Eggplant caponata recipe: easy Sicilian eggplant dish

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Eggplant caponata recipe – Indulge in the vibrant flavors of Sicily with this sumptuous eggplant caponata recipe! Bursting with the rich essence of Mediterranean cuisine, this dish is a delightful melange of textures and tastes that will transport you straight to the sun-drenched shores of Italy.

Eggplant caponata is a classic Sicilian dish that embodies the essence of Italian cooking—bold, flavorful, and effortlessly elegant. With its tender cubes of eggplant, tangy tomatoes, briny Kalamata olives, and piquant capers, each bite is a tantalizing symphony of flavors that dance across your palate. We’re talking the ultimate sauteed eggplant recipe, loaded with pan-fried eggplant tender deliciousness! If you like easy eggplant recipes full of tender texture and amazing flavor you’ve come to the right place!

The best eggplant recipes 

But what truly sets this Sicilian version of ratatouille dish apart is its remarkable versatility and simplicity. Whether served warm or at room temperature, as a standalone appetizer or a hearty side dish, eggplant caponata never fails to impress. 

This creamy eggplant tomato recipe is the perfect companion for crusty bread, crisp crostini, or a bed of fluffy couscous, offering endless possibilities for culinary creativity. Sicilian eggplant caponata goes well with any main dish! The lightly sour flavors of salty capers mixed with roasted eggplant and tomato sauce goodness, makes this homemade caponata a must have on the dinner table.

Accidentally vegan eggplant tomato recipe 

And the best part about this easy recipe? This eggplant caponata recipe is naturally vegan, making it a guilt-free indulgence that’s as wholesome as it is delicious. So whether you’re a dedicated herbivore or simply seeking a plant-based delight to tantalize your taste buds, this Sicilian Caponata dish is sure to become one of your favorite dishes.

So gather your ingredients, fire up your stove, and prepare to embark on a culinary journey like no other. With its tantalizing blend of flavors and effortless charm, this eggplant caponata recipe is destined to become a cherished favorite in your kitchen repertoire. Buon appetito!

What is eggplant caponata 

Eggplant caponata is a traditional Italian dish originating from Sicily. It’s a savory and tangy eggplant relish or stew made with diced eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives, capers, and various seasonings. The dish is typically cooked slowly to allow the flavors to meld together, resulting in a rich and flavorful dish with a sweet, sour, and slightly salty taste profile. Eggplant caponata is often served as an appetizer or antipasto, either warm or at room temperature, and can be enjoyed on its own or as a topping for crostini or bruschetta. It’s a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit personal tastes and preferences, making it a popular choice in Italian cuisine.

Eggplant tomato recipe ingredients 

Here’s a summary of the ingredient. Fresh ingredients of good quality is the key to getting the perfect dish flavors! Let’s take a closer look at the simple Mediterranean diet ingredients you need to make this Beautiful recipe for Italian eggplant caponata:

Note: for this easy eggplant stir-fry caponata we are using the eggplant skin. If you prefer to make the caponata without any skin (such as if the eggplant’s skin is rough or thick) you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin before dicing. It’s always a good idea to peel the raw eggplants before you begin slicing them into small cubes or shorter planks. 

Eggplant caponata Key ingredient:

    1.    Fresh Eggplant: Provides the main base of the dish, adding a creamy texture and mild flavor when cooked. Opt for Sicilian eggplants or small Italian eggplants if you can get them. Alternatively you can use small eggplants, like baby eggplants, globe eggplant, Chinese eggplant, American eggplant, or even Japanese eggplants, with firm skin to make this classic Italian dish. It’s the key ingredient in the gluten-free eggplant dish! 

Eggplant caponata seasoning ingredients

    2.    Salt: Used to draw out excess moisture from the eggplant, helping to remove bitterness and improve texture. Opt for kosher salt or sea salt, or use low-sodium salt if needed. 

    3.    Olive oil: Adds richness and flavor to the dish, as well as helping to cook the vegetables evenly.Opt for extra-virgin olive oil if you have it. The extra virgin olive oil will really enhance the Italian flavor in your classic Sicilian recipes!

    4.    Onion: Adds sweetness and depth of flavor to the caponata when sautéed with garlic. You can use yellow onion, white onions, or red onions to make the easy classic Sicilian recipe. 

    5.    Garlic: Provides a pungent and aromatic flavor to the great recipe. Alternatively, you can use garlic powder to make the sautéed eggplant recipe. It’s the best way to get the garlic flavor if you don’t have fresh garlic cloves in the kitchen while you’re whipping up delicious eggplant recipes!

Caponata sauce ingredients

    6.    Canned tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes: Serve as the tomato base for the caponata, adding acidity and richness. Alternatively, you can use fresh tomatoes, like fresh plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, chopped finely to make the base of the amazing lightly sour sauce. 

    7.    Green olives: Contribute a briny and salty flavor, adding complexity to the dish.Alternatively, you can use black olives to make this authentic caponata. 

    8.    Capers: Add a tangy and savory flavor, complementing the sweetness of the other ingredients.

    9.    Tomato paste: Intensifies the tomato flavor and adds richness to the caponata. The tomato puree adds a sweeter taste to the delicious sauce that’s irresistible with the sautéed eggplant.

Seasoning ingredients

    10.    Oregano: Provides herbal notes and enhances the overall flavor profile.

    11.    Balsamic vinegar: Adds sweetness and acidity, balancing the flavors of the dish. Alternatively, you can substitute with white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar to make this Sicilian specialty.

    12.    White sugar, brown sugar or maple syrup: Adds sweetness to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar in traditional caponata.

    13.    Ground black pepper: Adds a subtle heat and depth of flavor.

    14.    Fresh parsley or lots of fresh basil: Used as a garnish to add freshness and color to the finished Sicilian cuisine dish.

These ingredients come together to create a delicious and flavorful Italian eggplant caponata that’s sure to impress!

Tips and tricks for making the best eggplant caponata 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the best eggplant caponata:

1. Salt the eggplant: After dicing the eggplant, sprinkle it with salt or sea salt and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes. This helps draw out excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. Afterward, rinse the salt off and pat the eggplant dry before using it in the recipe.

2. Use quality ingredients: Since eggplant caponata relies on simple ingredients, using high-quality ingredients will make a difference in the final flavor. Opt for fresh and ripe tomatoes, good-quality olive oil, and flavorful olives and capers.

3. Balance flavors: Taste and adjust the seasoning as you cook the traditional eggplant caponata recipe. Eggplant caponata should have a balance of sweet, savory, tangy, and salty flavors. Adjust the amount of sugar, vinegar, and salt to achieve the perfect balance for your taste preferences.

4. Cook low and slow: Allow the flavors to develop by cooking the caponata over low heat for a longer period of time. This allows the ingredients to meld together and intensifies the flavor of the dish. Slow cooking lets the fresh vegetables become tender and delicious!

5. Add fresh herbs: Finish the eggplant caponata with a generous sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil, just before serving. This adds a burst of freshness and brightness to the traditional Sicilian dish.

Extra tips

6. Let it rest: Like many stewed dishes, easy eggplant caponata tastes even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld together. Consider making it ahead of time and letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight before serving. It also makes this a great make-ahead dish!

7. Serve at room temperature: Eggplant caponata is best served at room temperature or slightly chilled. Allow it to cool down after cooking and then let it sit out for a bit before serving to allow the flavors to fully develop.

With these tips, you’ll be able to make a delicious and flavorful eggplant caponata that’s sure to impress!

How to dice eggplant 

Dicing eggplant is a simple process. Don’t need any special knife skills to dice eggplant. All you need is a sharp chef’s knife or a serrated knife, a flat surface to work on and a stable cutting board. Here’s how to do it:

1. Start by rinsing the eggplant under cool water and patting it dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels.

2. First step: Hold the eggplant carefully with your non-dominant hand while you use your dominant hand to cut with the knife. Trim off the top of the eggplant using a sharp knife.

3. Stand the eggplant upright on the cutting board and slice it vertically down the middle to create two equal halves. This is the easiest way to slice this versatile vegetable. Then cut the eggplant halves into halves across the middle to get even smaller eggplants to work with. 

4. Stand the eggplant upright on the flat bottom/ends. Cut thin slices into the eggplant to make eggplant slices. Be careful to keep a firm grip on the raw eggplant as you cut eggplant.

Next, Lay one half of the eggplant flat on the cutting board, flat side/cut-side down, to create a stable surface. This helps you avoid accidental cuts.

Dicing eggplant steps:

5. Using a sharp knife, make vertical cuts across the width of the eggplant, spacing them evenly apart according to the desired size of your dice. 

6. Finally, turn the eggplant back to its original position and carefully slice across the length of the eggplant to cut the lengthwise slices into diced eggplant. 

That’s it! You should now have evenly diced eggplant pieces ready to use in your recipes, such as eggplant caponata, low-carb eggplant pizzas, creamy dips, baba ghanoush,  eggplant lasagna, and all your favorite eggplant recipes! Adjust the size of the dice according to your preference and the requirements of your recipe.

Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Indulge in the rich flavors of Mediterranean cuisine with our delightful Eggplant Caponata. This savory dish features tender eggplant cubes, tangy tomatoes, briny olives, and zesty capers, all simmered to perfection in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. Serve as a side dish, sandwich topper, appetizer, or topping for crostini, and let the bold flavors transport you to the sunny shores of Italy. Simple to prepare and bursting with taste, it’s a must-have in your recipe collection!

Eggplant tomato recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 300 grams)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil, divided (60 ml)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 150 grams)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ cups canned tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes (about 360 grams)
  • 12 green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers (about 30 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced oregano
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (30 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar or maple syrup (about 10 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley, or to taste

How to make eggplant caponata 

How to make eggplant caponata recipe Instructions: how to cook eggplant in a pan

1. Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes to release excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant cubes and pat them dry with a paper towel.

2. In a large skillet or non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant cubes and cook until they are golden brown and softened, about 8-10 minutes. 

3. In the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil and sauté the chopped onion until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.

4. Stir in the canned tomatoes, chopped olives, capers, tomato paste, minced oregano, balsamic vinegar, sugar or maple syrup, salt, and black pepper. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.

5. Turn off the heat and let the dish remain in the pan to cook on the remaining heat. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.

6. Remove the skillet from heat and let the caponata cool slightly. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.

7. Transfer the caponata to a serving dish and sprinkle with minced fresh parsley before serving. Enjoy your delicious eggplant caponata!

This eggplant caponata is a versatile dish that can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or even as a topping for crostini. It’s packed with flavor and makes a perfect addition to any meal!

How to cook eggplant in air fryer 

Cooking eggplant caponata in an air fryer is a convenient and efficient method. Here’s how to do it:

1. Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).

2. Spread the prepared eggplant cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

3. Lightly spray or brush the eggplant cubes with a little oil to ensure they crisp up nicely.

4. Air fry the eggplant cubes for about 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.

5. While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients for the caponata sauce.

6. Once the eggplant is golden brown and tender, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

7. In the air fryer basket (or in a separate skillet if preferred), sauté the onion and garlic until softened and fragrant.

8. Add the canned tomatoes, olives, capers, tomato paste, oregano, balsamic vinegar, sugar or maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the onion and garlic mixture. Stir well to combine.

9. Return the cooked eggplant cubes to the air fryer basket and pour the tomato mixture over them.

10. Continue to air fry the caponata for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until heated through and the flavors meld together.

11. Garnish with minced fresh parsley before serving.

12. Enjoy your delicious air fryer eggplant caponata as a side dish, appetizer, or topping for crostini!

This method results in crispy yet tender eggplant with a flavorful sauce, all achieved in the convenience of your air fryer. Adjust cooking times as needed based on the size and power of your air fryer.

Delicious eggplant caponata flavor variations and add ins

Want more delicious recipe inspiration? Here are some delicious flavor variations and add-ins to enhance your eggplant caponata:

1. Bell Peppers: Add diced red bell peppers (red, yellow, or orange) for extra color and sweetness.

2. Pine Nuts: Toasted pine nuts add a delightful nutty crunch to the caponata.

3. Raisins: For a touch of sweetness, add a handful of golden raisins or chopped dried apricots.

4. Sun-Dried Tomatoes: Chop up some sun-dried tomatoes for an intensified tomato flavor.

5. Fresh Herbs: Experiment with fresh herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary for added aroma and freshness.

6. Red Wine Vinegar: Substitute some or all of the balsamic vinegar with red wine vinegar for a tangier flavor profile.

Extra eggplant dip add-ins

7. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes: For a bit of heat, sprinkle in some crushed red pepper flakes or diced chili peppers.

8. Cannellini Beans: Stir in some drained and rinsed cannellini beans for added protein and texture.

9. Artichoke Hearts: Chopped marinated artichoke hearts lend a unique flavor and texture to the caponata.

10. Fennel: Sautéed or roasted fennel bulbs add a subtle licorice flavor and crisp texture.

Feel free to mix and match these variations according to your taste preferences and what ingredients you have on hand. Experimenting with different flavor combinations is part of the fun of cooking!

How to eat eggplant caponata 

Eggplant caponata is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some delicious ways to eat eggplant caponata:

1. Appetizer: Serve eggplant caponata as a spread on toasted baguette slices or crackers for a flavorful appetizer.

2. Bruschetta: Spread eggplant caponata on grilled or toasted bread slices for a delightful bruschetta.

3. Pasta Topping: Toss cooked pasta with eggplant caponata for a quick and flavorful pasta dish.

4. Side Dish: Serve eggplant caponata as a side dish alongside grilled meats, fish, or roasted chicken.

5. Sandwich Filling: Use eggplant caponata as a filling for sandwiches or wraps, adding freshness with lettuce or arugula.

6. Salad Topping: Spoon eggplant caponata over mixed greens or spinach for a flavorful salad topping.

7. Pizza Topping: Use eggplant caponata as a topping for homemade pizzas to add depth of flavor.

8. Omelette or Frittata: Incorporate eggplant caponata into omelettes or frittatas for a delicious and hearty breakfast or brunch option.

9. Charcuterie Board: Include eggplant caponata as part of a charcuterie board alongside cheeses, olives, and other antipasti.

10. Dip: Serve eggplant caponata as a dip with vegetable crudites, pita chips, or breadsticks for a tasty snack or appetizer option.

Feel free to get creative and experiment with different serving ideas to enjoy this flavorful Mediterranean dish!

What I’ve been making lately

Eggplant caponata FAQ

Can I make eggplant caponata ahead of time?

Yes, eggplant caponata can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. In fact, it often tastes even better the next day as the flavors have had time to meld together.

Can I freeze eggplant caponata?

While eggplant caponata can technically be frozen, the texture of the eggplant may change upon thawing, becoming somewhat mushy. It’s best enjoyed fresh or refrigerated for later consumption.

How do I reheat eggplant caponata?

To reheat eggplant caponata, simply transfer it to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until warmed through. You can also microwave it in a microwave-safe container, stirring occasionally, until heated to your desired temperature.

 Is eggplant caponata vegan?

Yes, eggplant caponata is naturally vegan as it does not contain any animal products. It’s a great option for vegans and vegetarians alike.

Can I customize the ingredients in eggplant caponata?

Absolutely! Eggplant caponata is a versatile dish, and you can customize it based on your preferences. Feel free to add extra vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini, adjust the seasoning to your taste, or even incorporate ingredients like pine nuts or raisins for added texture and flavor.

Can I make eggplant caponata spicy?

Yes, if you enjoy spicy food, you can add some red pepper flakes or chopped fresh chili peppers to the eggplant caponata for a spicy kick. Adjust the amount according to your heat preference.

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Eggplant Caponata Recipe

Indulge in the rich flavors of Mediterranean cuisine with our delightful Eggplant Caponata. This savory dish features tender eggplant cubes, tangy tomatoes, briny olives, and zesty capers, all simmered to perfection in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices. Serve as a side dish, appetizer, or topping for crostini, and let the bold flavors transport you to the sunny shores of Italy. Simple to prepare and bursting with taste, it’s a must-have in your recipe collection!
Course Appetizer, Dip, Lunch
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword Dip, healthy recipes, vegan, weight watchers
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 3 – 4 servings
Calories 100kcal
Author Munchyesta.com

Ingredients

Eggplant tomato recipe Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 300 grams)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt more to taste
  • ¼ cup (60ml) olive oil divided
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped (about 150 grams)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 ½ cups canned tomatoes or fire-roasted tomatoes (about 360 grams)
  • 12 green olives pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers (about 30 grams)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon minced oregano
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (30 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar or maple syrup (about 10 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley or to taste

Instructions

How to make eggplant caponata

    How to make eggplant caponata recipe Instructions: how to cook eggplant in a pan

    • Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for about 20 minutes to release excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant cubes and pat them dry with a paper towel.
    • In a large skillet or non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the eggplant cubes and cook until they are golden brown and softened, about 8-10 minutes.
    • In the same skillet, add the remaining olive oil and sauté the chopped onion until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
    • Stir in the canned tomatoes, chopped olives, capers, tomato paste, minced oregano, balsamic vinegar, sugar or maple syrup, salt, and black pepper. Cook the mixture for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.
    • Turn off the heat and let the dish remain in the pan to cook on the remaining heat. Cook for an additional 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
    • Remove the skillet from heat and let the caponata cool slightly. Adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if needed.
    • Transfer the caponata to a serving dish and sprinkle with minced fresh parsley before serving. Enjoy your delicious eggplant caponata!
    • This eggplant caponata is a versatile dish that can be served as an appetizer, side dish, or even as a topping for crostini. It’s packed with flavor and makes a perfect addition to any meal!

    How to cook eggplant in air fryer

    • Cooking eggplant caponata in an air fryer is a convenient and efficient method. Here’s how to do it:
    • Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
    • Spread the prepared eggplant cubes in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
    • Lightly spray or brush the eggplant cubes with a little oil to ensure they crisp up nicely.
    • Air fry the eggplant cubes for about 10-15 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.
    • While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients for the caponata sauce.
    • Once the eggplant is golden brown and tender, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
    • In the air fryer basket (or in a separate skillet if preferred), sauté the onion and garlic until softened and fragrant.
    • Add the canned tomatoes, olives, capers, tomato paste, oregano, balsamic vinegar, sugar or maple syrup, salt, and pepper to the onion and garlic mixture. Stir well to combine.
    • Return the cooked eggplant cubes to the air fryer basket and pour the tomato mixture over them.
    • Continue to air fry the caponata for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until heated through and the flavors meld together.
    • Garnish with minced fresh parsley before serving.
    • Enjoy your delicious air fryer eggplant caponata as a side dish, appetizer, or topping for crostini!
    • This method results in crispy yet tender eggplant with a flavorful sauce, all achieved in the convenience of your air fryer. Adjust cooking times as needed based on the size and power of your air fryer.

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