Caponata is a traditional Sicilian starter (often used as side dish). Every family in Sicily prepare it in slight different ways and with different ingredients. Even two caponata cooked from the same person will often taste quite different. For this reason, in Sicilian culture, cooking the caponata is a struggle to find perfection. Beware that (in pure Sicilian tradition) if you are invited to try somebody else caponata you are supposed to extensively discuss up to the smallest differences compared to all the caponata you ever tried in your life. This social activity will usually take most of the meal and not doing it will often be considered unpolite. Below you will find my personal recipe, which is a modification of my family recipe.
Caponata’s main ingredient is eggplant which make it a robust and tasteful dish. Caponata is usually prepared during summer and is served cold to give the necessary refreshment from the hot summer Sicilian weather. Caponata can also easily be pasteurized (or frozen) and stored for up to 6 months. For this reason it is often convenient to prepare at once large amounts whenever fresh and/or cheap eggplants are available and then store it.
- 1.5 Kg Eggplants
- 0.8 Liters Tomato sauce
- 2 Onions
- 200 gr. Green olives
- 1 Celery
- 3 spoon Capers
- 1 glass Vinegard
- 2 spoons Sugar
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
- First of all let’s prepare all the ingredients:
- Wash the Eggplants, take off the top and cut them in large cubes.
- Clean the Celery, eliminating all the leafs, and then slice it into thick half-moons.
- Clean the green olives from the seed and cut them in half.
- Wash the Capers (eventually removing the salt)
- Fry the eggplant’s cubes until brown and rest them on kitchen paper to eliminate the oil in excess.
- In the meanwhile, boil for 5 minutes the sliced celery in salty water.
- In a large pot place olive oil and chopped onions, and fry until golden-brown.
- Remove the boiled celery from the water and add it to the onions.
- Add also green olives, the capers and the tomato sauce.
- Let cook for 10-15 minutes while adjusting the black pepper and the salt. Keep stirring once in a while.
- Add the fried eggplants and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Dissolve the sugar in the glass of vinegar. Add the glass to the rest and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Let the caponata cool down. You can now serve it at room temperature (or process it for long-term storage).