Sicilian Caponata is a vegetable mixture that works as an accompaniment for meats and seafood, and also makes a delicious appetizer served room temperature with fresh crusty bread or crispy bruschetta.
It’s important to use roasted eggplant as the base of this dish, roasted zucchini also helps create the foundation for this dish. Don’t use fried eggplant or stove-cooked eggplant for this dish.
The combination of savory, sweet, and sour flavors elevates caponata a new level of deliciousness! The roasted eggplant (and zucchini) adds a creamy texture, making this tasty vegetable relish almost spreadable.
Some recipes compare caponata to ratatouille, and some recipes make it in the same manner, but it’s not really caponata when it’s cooked stovetop. When it comes to Sicilian Cuisine, you won’t often find garlic cloves or onion in Sicilian Caponata as their flavors tend to overpower the rest of the ingredients. I also prefer the fuller flavor of roasted red peppers to that of red bell peppers.
Just remember, you’ll find as many different Caponata recipes as there are Italian Grandmothers.
Ingredients to make Sicilian Caponata
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Sicilian Caponata. In Chef Speak this is called the “Mise en Place” which translates to “Everything in its Place”.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Caponata is made using fresh vegetables and simple pantry ingredients:
- green olives
- Kalamata or black olives
- roasted red peppers
- red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
- olive oil
- Italian parsley
- red pepper flakes
How to make Sicilian Caponata
The first step is prepping the eggplant and zucchini for roasting. Brush the veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and set on a sheet pan.
Place the sheet pan of prepared veggies on the center rack of a 350-degree preheated oven and roast the vegetables for 18-20 minutes.
*Let the eggplant and zucchini cool before chopping.
While the roasted vegetables are cooling put the dressing for my Sicilian Caponata together.
Blend the vinegar, olive oil, salt, red pepper flakes and just a bit of sugar together to make the dressing for the caponata,
- Place the chopped vegetables, olives and capers in a large mixing bowl.
- mix the ingredients together.
- Add the dressing to the mixture and mix together.
Don’t be tempted to use tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes or tomato paste to make this dish. You’ll end up with more of a salsa than caponata and trust me, you won’t be happy with the results.
Add the chopped Italian parsley and chopped fresh basil to the vegetable mixture and blend together.
If there is any left after the first day, you’ll find that my Sicilian Caponata tastes even better the next day when the flavors have a chance to come together. If you have time make this a day before you need it.
One of my favorite uses for Sicilian Caponata is as a spread on Italian meat sandwiches…OMG delicious!
In the Italian dialect of Sicilian, capunata is the word for a sailor’s dish of bread steeped in oil and vinegar and chopped vegetables.
The main difference is other than roasting the eggplant and zucchini, Sicilian caponata is not cooked. You’ll also find olives and capers in caponata, which are not included in ratatouille.