Caponata (Sicilian-Style Summer Vegetables)

Caponata is the perfect dish to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are in season! Serve as a side dish or appetizer at your next gathering!

Caponata is the Perfect Summer Side Dish

Bursting with fresh summer flavors, Caponata is one of my favorite dishes to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and basil come into season mid to late summer. Caponata is full of distinct flavors that go perfectly together.

I first tasted Caponata several years ago at an Italian Side Dishes class at Cook Like An Italian by Monica Pesoli. She cooked each main ingredient separately, then simmered them together with white wine vinegar and fresh herbs.

Also Try Caponata as an Appetizer

More recently, I’ve been going through Lidia Bastianich’s 2017 cookbook Lidia’s Celebrate Like An Italian and discovered her Caponata recipe. The recipe below is based on the one in her book. You can serve it as a side dish (warm or chilled) or as an appetizer – after it is cooled, chop into small pieces and serve on crostini.

Caponata (Sicilian Style Summer Vegetables)
 
Caponata is the perfect Italian dish to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are in season. Enjoy as a side dish (warm or chilled) or appetizer (chopped and served on crostini).
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, cut into ½ inch squares
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup olive oil, then add eggplant in a single layer. You can do two batches if all of the eggplant does not fit in a single layer. Sauté eggplant, letting it turn golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large prep bowl.
  2. Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and repeat with zucchini. Remove zucchini with a slotted spoon (to leave oil in the pan) to the bowl with the eggplant.
  3. Add onion and celery to the pan and sauté about 5 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper, raisins, olives, capers, pine nuts, sea salt, and red pepper flakes and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, white wine vinegar, and sugar (if using). Simmer until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are well incorporated.
  6. Add fresh herbs and toss together.

Try These Italian Meals with Caponata

The last few summer menus I made with caponata included:

  • Pacific rock cod with capers and white wine sauce, risotto, caponata, and caprese salad:

Photo of Italian meal with caponata

And

  • Ocean perch with white wine sauce, basmati rice, caponata, and caprese salad

 

Some other summertime dishes you may want to try:

Provençal Vegetable Soup (Soupe Au Pistou)

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Baby Arugula Salad with Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Summertime Buckwheat Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

 

Buon appetito!

 

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