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Eggplant caponata – the recipe from Cooks but good


His Majesty the aubergine caponata! The queen of Sicilian dishes, which contains the richness, history and aromas of Sicilian culture. An appetizer or side dish that can also be considered a single dish, invariably accompanied by bread. Made with aubergines with an unmistakable Mediterranean flavour, to be enjoyed cold not only in the summer period but also all year round. As per tradition, each family keeps its perfect recipe, with or without raisins, with tomato concentrate or sauce. Just move from province to province to discover a different caponata. There are different variations of this dish throughout Sicily, with toasted almonds or even cocoa, but all with an unmistakable sweet and sour flavor that gives the vegetables a unique taste.
Eggplant caponata is a vegetarian dish, poor, economical and genuine, since the ingredients are easily available and at a good price. The best time to prepare it is summer, when seasonal aubergines are at their best: vigorous, bright, firm and well ripe.
This recipe is based on aubergines fried in extra virgin olive oil, onion, celery, tomato puree obviously made to perfection, olives, celery, capers and the final touch of vinegar and sugar for the typical sweet and sour flavour. A true riot of flavors to be eaten strictly cold, perhaps served in finger food glasses during a lunch on the terrace with friends.
Making aubergine caponata is not difficult at all but it is certainly not quick. To prepare it you must “rigorously” fry the aubergines and then cook the rest of the ingredients, forming a dense and tasty cooking base. Once ready, the aubergine caponata will have to cool and go in the fridge for at least one night. If prepared in advance, the aromas will have time to mix perfectly and success will be guaranteed.
We Sicilians are very proud of the caponata recipe, rich in the aromas and flavors of early summer. A delicious fresh summer dish, a must try!


Scope starter, side dish, main course
Total time 1 not 20 minutes
  • 1 kg long purple aubergines 4-5 medium sized
  • 2 red onions
  • 1 celery heart
  • 120 g pickled green olives to pit
  • 50 g capers dissalati
  • 500 ml tomato puree or fresh sauce
  • fresh basil to taste
  • sale q.b.

For frying aubergines

  • 2 glasses extra virgin olive oil circa 200 ml

For the sweet and sour

  • 30 ml White wine vinegar Bridges
  • 40 g sugar
  • large, capacious pan

  • skimmer

  • Cut the aubergines first into slices and then into cubes of about 2 cm.

  • Place the aubergine cubes in a colander, sprinkle them with a little salt and cover with a plate. In this way all the bitterness will tend to come out.

  • Let them drip for about an hour with a weight on top. Remember to place another plate under the colander to collect the vegetable water.

  • Rinse the aubergines after they have been purged.

  • Dry the cubes with kitchen paper.

  • Fry in a large, large pan with hot olive oil. Drain them with a slotted spoon, let the excess oil drain on absorbent paper and set aside.

  • Separately, in different saucepans, blanch the chopped celery and the chopped olives for about 2 minutes (blanching will help eliminate the bitterness). When finished, drain them.

  • In the same pan where you fried the aubergine, fry the onion cut into slices with a little oil. As soon as it is wilted, soft and transparent, but not too browned, add the celery, olives and capers and the tomato puree. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes, allowing the mixture to reduce. Taste, add salt if needed.

  • Now, pour the sugar and vinegar into a glass and mix. Add them to the sauce and mix quickly, bring back to the boil and finally add the fried aubergines. Be careful when mixing gently, the vegetables should not fall apart.

  • Before serving the caponata, let it rest until it cools. Finally, add a few basil leaves.

Once ready, the aubergine caponata will have to cool and go in the fridge for at least one night.
If you want, you can keep the cooking juices in the fridge for 1 week. So, when it's time to serve it at the table, all you need to do is fry the aubergines in good time, in human quantities!
If you want to prepare preserves for the winter, transfer it while still hot into sterilized airtight glass containers. Close and turn upside down until cool, in this way you will obtain the vacuum. Store in a cool, dark place.
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