Eggplant caponata is an easy recipe that's full of flavor. This vegetarian eggplant recipe is made with fresh vegetables and can be prepared quickly.
We use eggplant very often in our recipes because it's such a versatile vegetable that can be used in different ways. Eggplant recipes are very common in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Some of our favorite eggplant recipes are eggplant lasagna, classic eggplant parmesan and Greek eggplant moussaka. Today's recipe is a simple dish that you can make in summer and serve simply with some bread.
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About this recipe
Caponata, also known as capunata, is a Sicilian eggplant dish made that's usually served warm. It's considered a warm vegetable salad that can be served as an appetizer, side or even a main dish. There are so many different versions and most have eggplant and onions in common.
This Italian eggplant recipe is easy, simple and full of flavor. It's such a delicious addition to a dinner table, especially in summer when fresh vegetables are nicely in season. We have this Italian dish at least twice a month in summer because it's so good!
This vegetarian warm salad is made with delicious vegetables and is pretty unique. It makes the perfect appetizer for your parties and gatherings. This is one of the easiest eggplant dishes out there and it's perfect for picky eaters too!
Like French ratatouille, this recipe calls for fresh vegetables that are easily accessible. To make this easy eggplant dish, you need the following ingredients:
- Eggplants: I suggest using Italian eggplants since they are less spongy compare to globe eggplants.
- Onions: You can use white or yellow onions to make this dish.
- Garlic: It's best to use fresh garlic and not garlic powder.
- Tomatoes: You can use canned tomatoes for this recipe. If using fresh ones, Roma tomatoes work best.
- Red bell pepper: You can use orange or yellow bell pepper as well. I don't suggest using green bell pepper.
- Olives: Black olives work best in this recipe, however you can also use a combination of black and green olives.
- Capers: I love the addition of capers in this dish, but you can leave them out if you're not a fan.
Prepare the eggplants
You can prepare the eggplants by either frying or roasting them. Traditionally, people fry the eggplants like I do in my fried eggplant recipe to make this dish. However, I always roast cubed eggplants:
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non stick spray.
- Cut the eggplants into cubes and place them on the baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt.
- Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Make the caponata
- Saute the onion and garlic in a large pan over medium heat and add in tomatoes and red bell pepper.
- Once the vegetables are cooked, add in roasted eggplants, olives and capers with salt and pepper.
- Let it cook for another 10-15 minutes and serve with crusty bread.
Caponata is a very versatile dish. You can serve it as an eggplant appetizer at your parties, or as a main dish with some crusty bread or even homemade pita. I also love serving it as a side dish with garlic chicken as it makes a wonderful combination. This dish is also great with Italian stuffed peppers.
Frequently asked questions
I suggest you use Italian eggplants to make this Italian warm eggplant dish because they have thin peel and roast beautifully. It's also possible to use graffiti eggplants, globe eggplants or Chinese eggplants if Italian eggplants are not available. Please check out this article by The Kitchn about different varieties of eggplants and how to use them.
This eggplant recipe freezes beautifully therefore you can make a big batch and freeze the rest to use later. Once it's is fully cooled, transfer it into an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. To serve, thaw either in the fridge or microwave and heat in a pan over medium heat. Serve with some crusty bread.
Eggplant caponata is considered a warm vegetable salad, therefore it's usually served warm or at room temperature. However, I've also had it cold and it tastes great. Serving this classic Italian dish warm or cold completely depends on your preference.
More Eggplant Recipes
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Eggplant Caponata Recipe
- 1 lb Italian eggplants cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes 15 oz
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- ½ cup green and black olives chopped
- ¼ cup capers
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Coat with non stick spray.
- Place eggplant pieces on the baking sheet and drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the eggplants. Sprinkle some salt and mix using your hands.
- Roast the eggplants in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Saute onion and garlic until translucent.
- Add in diced tomatoes and red bell peppers to onions and garlic. Cook for about ten minutes until they're cooked.
- Add in cooked eggplant, chopped olives and capers. Cook for five minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Top with parsley and serve warm with crusty bread.
- You can also fry the eggplants instead of roasting them.
- It's possible to make this dish ahead of time. Eggplant caponata can be served warm, cold or at room temperature.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for up to one week.
- Once it's is fully cooled, transfer it into an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. To serve, thaw either in the fridge or microwave and heat in a pan over medium heat. Serve with some crusty bread.