Caponata Recipe - A Sicilian Aubergine Stew

Updated on Mar 06, 2019 by Kathryn Burrington

Blog > Caponata Recipe - A Sicilian Aubergine Stew

Caponata is a delicious vegetarian stew, served hot as a side dish, cold as antipasto or as a meal in itself with toasted ciabatta, drizzled in a little olive oil.

Its principle ingredient is aubergine, a popular vegetable in Sicilian cooking. In Italy, it's known as melanzane from the words, ‘mela insane’ - the insane apple! It was first introduced to Sicily by the Arabs and is regularly used in local specialities such a pasta alla Norma or Melanzane alla Parmigiana (an aubergine, tomato and cheese bake).

Image credit: Quanthem | Shutterstock 


Caponata Recipe

Serves 4 / 5


  • 1 large aubergine, unpeeled, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped (or 1 large can of crushed tomatoes)
  • 100g chopped green olives
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 70ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 70ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 50g raisins or sultanas (optional)
  • Handful of pine nuts and parsley or basil leaves (for scattering on top as an optional dressing)


  1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan and toss the aubergine with a little oregano and salt so that the chunks are evenly coated in oil.
  2. Cook on a high heat for around five minutes, shaking the pan as needed so that the aubergine chunks are evenly golden on each side.

Steps 1 & 2 may need to be repeated depending on the size of your pan.

  1. Once all the aubergine chunks are nice and golden, lower the heat.
  2. Mix all the remaining ingredients into the pan.
  3. Cover over and simmer on a very low heat for several hours.

What could be simpler?

If in a hurry, you can cut the aubergine into slightly smaller chunks and go straight to step 4 but simmer over a low heat uncovered for an hour. However, the slower cooking method allows the flavours to really blend together. This dish is great reheated so is perfect to make in advance.

Image credit: Fanfo | Shutterstock


Toasted Ciabatta

If serving with ciabatta, remove the stew from the heat and prepare the ciabatta as the caponata cools slightly. Cut the ciabatta into large slices, drizzle in olive oil and lightly toast it in a griddle, on both sides. Finally, rub with a garlic clove and season.



Featured image: Quanthem  |  Shutterstock


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