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. Caponata is full of distinct flavors–eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, olives, capers, raisins, basil, mint– 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. Here I’m using white balsamic vinegar, as a variation.

Emma showed up for the photo shoot!

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. She suggests you 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.

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Caponata over polenta with sprig of basil

Caponata (Sicilian Style Summer Vegetables)

  • Author: Chef Rachel Zierzow
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Gluten Free


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).



  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 small ed bell pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch squares
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 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
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add 1/4 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 1/4 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 and white balsamic vinegar. Simmer until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are well incorporated.
  6. Add fresh herbs and toss together. 
  7. Serve over corn polenta, rice, or crostini.

Cook along with us!

My daughter Izzy and I recently made Caponata for our Wednesday Facebook live cooking show. Gather the ingredients and we can make it together! Please subscribe to our Youtube channel so we can keep bringing you more how to videos!

Try These Italian Meals with Caponata

The last few summer menus I made with caponata included:

Wild salmon, polenta, caponata, and grilled broccolini:

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

Photo of Italian meal with caponata


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

Some other summertime dishes you may want to try:

Buon appetito!


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