Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
Eggplant caponata is an easy pan-fried side dish or appetizer of traditional Sicilian-Palermo cuisine. It combines roasted eggplants with sautéed celery, onions, tomatoes, olives, and capers.
The perfect blend of sweet and tangy flavors will have you coming back for seconds!
You will love the versatility of caponata di melanzane: it can be a salad, side dish, relish, antipasto, or condiment. Serve with crusty bread for a hearty appetizer or over tahdig rice with crispy naan for a vegetarian/vegan main dish.
Eggplant caponata is usually served as a classic side dish, but it can also become a finger food if combined with crostini or served in small glasses.
It is excellent tossed with pasta, accompanied with rice or mashed potatoes. You can make it a flavorful addition to your favorite fish or chicken recipe.
Eggplant caponata is a popular and piquant late summer dish in Italy when eggplants are in season, but it's nourishing enough even for cold days.
Sicilian Eggplant Caponata
- ▢ 1 eggplant, medium to large
- ▢ 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ▢ 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ▢ 1 stalk celery, diced
- ▢ 1 onion small, diced
- ▢ 16-ounce diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
- ▢ 1/3 cup pitted green olives, sliced or chopped
- ▢ 1 tablespoon capers, whole or chopped
- ▢ Salt to taste
- ▢ 1/2 teaspoon sugar, or honey
- ▢ 1 tablespoon vinegar
- ▢ 1 tablespoon fresh basil, thinly sliced (chiffonade method)
- ▢ 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Clean and dice eggplant, but do not peel. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside 30 minutes to draw out the moisture.
- In a saucepan, sauté onions with one tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Add diced tomatoes with juices and cook until it thickens.
- Meanwhile, rinse the eggplant with hot water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat the remaining olive and vegetable oil in a large skillet over high heat. Quickly fry the eggplant pieces until browned.
- Add the chopped celery and fry for three more minutes.
- Pour in the prepared tomato sauce, olives, capers, and salt to taste. Mix well and sauté for five minutes. Add sugar, vinegar, basil, and crushed red pepper. Lower heat; simmer for five minutes.
- Caponata is a great make-ahead dish that tastes even better the next day.
- Make sure to resist making this dish before letting the eggplant sit in salt or salted water to remove its bitterness. It will bring out the sweet and nutty flavor of the eggplant, and I promise you won't regret it.
- Serve on toasted bread as an appetizer or a nourishing side with your favorite carbs and protein.
- Keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.
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