Plant It Forward

Caponata Siciliana

Caponata Siciliana

Yield: 4 servings

Serving Size: 1/2 cup

This sweet and sour eggplant dish originated in Sicily. It’s a beautiful dish for summer because it uses all the best vegetables of July and August – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.


  • 2 ½ cups diced eggplant (skin on)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for frying
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup diced spring onion (red or yellow onion can also work)
  • 1½ cup seeded and diced bell peppers, assorted colors
  • ¼ cup diced celery
  • Pinch dried red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons capers, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more to soak raisins
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons raisins or dried currants
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pitted black olives
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • Fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped


  1. In a large, deep skillet or fry pan, heat extra virgin olive oil (should be enough oil to reach a ¼ inch up the side of the pan). When the oil is hot, cook the eggplant in batches until browned all over; drain on paper towels.
  2. Place the ¼ cup olive oil in a medium skillet along with the onion, peppers, and celery. Set over heat and sauté until the vegetables are wilted and beginning to color at the edges, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the red pepper flakes, thyme, and capers, and season with a little salt and black pepper.
  4. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook to reduce.
  5. Add the tomatoes and cook 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked eggplant, raisins, olives, pine nuts, basil, and parsley. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Cook 5 minutes to marry the flavors. The eggplant and celery should be tender but still firm. Taste again for salt and black pepper.


Caponata can be served warm, but it is traditionally served at room temperature. It’s even better the day after it’s made, when the flavors have had time to mingle and develop. Served it on toasted bread bruschetta, or as a side dish for grilled fish or meats