Caponata [Sweet-and-Sour Eggplant]

Locale: Italy [Sicily]

Source: Joyce Goldstein, Mediterranean: The Beautiful Cookbook [p. 47]

Serves: 6-8


  • 2 eggplants
  • salt
  • 2 tbs + 1.5 c olive oil
  • 1 c diced celery
  • 3 onions, chopped or sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 c tomato purée
  • 3 tbs capers, rinsed and drained
  • 12 black (and/or green) olives, pitted, coarsely chopped
  • 0.25 c pine nuts (or slivered almonds), toasted
  • 0.5 c red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • chopped fresh basil or fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 3 tbs raisins, plumped in hot water and drained (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper


  1. Eggplants can be peeled or left unpeeled. Cut into 1-inch dice. Sprinkle with salt and place in colander 1 hour to drain. Rinse and pat dry.

  2. In small sauté pan over medium heat, heat 2 tbs olive oil. Add celery and sauté briefly; it should still be crisp. Set aside.

  3. In wide sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 c olive oil. Add eggplant and sauté, turning often, until golden and cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Do not undercook. Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain.

  4. In same sauté pan, warm remaining 0.5 c olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender and translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Add reserved celery and tomato purée and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add cooked eggplant, capers, olives, nuts, vinegar, sugar, basil or parsley, and raisins (if using). Stir well and simmer, uncovered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  5. Transfer to serving bowl and serve at room temperature.


  1. I made a half-recipe, given that I only had one eggplant. I omitted celery and raisins, and substituted tomato paste for tomato purée (can't tell you how much, but less than half as much). I used pine nuts and Italian parsley. Possibly the best eggplant dish I have ever made, and that's saying something.


  1. 2007-08-11: