Caponata

30 Oct

Caponata is a Sicilian vegetable dish similar to the Provençal Ratatouille but with a sweet and sour taste and an almost chutney like consistency. It is a wonderfully versatile dish and can be served as a side vegetable, a starter salad, a sandwich filling or as a sauce for grilled fish and cooked meats. It is equally good cold, at room temperature or hot.

It is also a great vehicle for the last of the summer crops which are sitting in my kitchen waiting for inspiration. Caponata, unlike ratatouille, has no peppers or courgettes and most commonly includes onions, aubergines, tomatoes, capers, green olives and celery as well as sugar and vinegar. As I love peppers but hate celery my version of caponata includes peppers but not the celery. I have also included a little hot cayenne chilli to spice things up a bit.

  • olive oil
  • 6 small onions, peeled and sliced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2-3 large aubergines, peeled and diced
  • 5 medium long green peppers, sliced (optional)
  • 500g tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Oregano, Thyme, cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • 5 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp pitted green olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1 dried cayenne chilli (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp capers
  • Fresh parsley, minced

In a large heavy bottomed pan add a generous layer of olive oil and throw in the onions, saute until they start to soften then add the sliced peppers and cook until both are soft. Add the aubergines and saute gently until they too start to soften then add the tomatoes, vinegar, seasonings and sugar. Cook slowly stirring occasionally, to make sure it does not stick to the pan, for 30 minutes or so. Add the capers and olives, stir and cook for a few more minutes. Stir in the parsley when ready to serve. Caponata can be made well in advance and even improves in flavour if kept for a day or two before eating. It will keep for a bout 1 week stored in a clean sealed jar in the fridge.

Variations Many recipes also call for pine nuts which i don’t use in my version.
22/11/2007

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