Eggplant Caponata

August 20, 2010

Although I was a good eater as a child, I had a list of things I did not like.  Turkey was at the top of the list.  Closely following were mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, and eggplant.  As I moved into vegetarianism and my taste buds grew up, I learned to love mushrooms in just about any form, zucchini almost all ways (not raw unless thinly sliced like this), peppers as long as they are cooked way down, and eggplant…  Well, still working on that one.

I like eggplant more than I did when I was a kid but that isn’t really saying much since I hated it then.  I’ve said this before here but I tend to like it best when it kind of hides in the background a bit.  It’s harder for me to tolerate when it is front and center.  (Although I do have a great Eggplant Parmesan recipe that I love and there is just no explaining that.)

Caponata is the thing I tend to ignore on the antipasto platter.  It stands between me and the marinated mozzarella or the garlicky mushrooms.  So why did I make it?  I have eggplant lovers in my life and this recipe comes from a most-trusted cookbook.  I made it during one of those weeks when I needed appetizers for several different things and this recipe makes a lot of caponata.  It also keeps really well.  I’ve tasted my share of them and this, in my humble opinion, is the finest version.  Some are too salty, some are too sweet, and most are too greasy.  John Ash finds the perfect balance here.  Sweetness from raisins and a bit of brown sugar, salty from capers and olives, acidity from tomatoes and red wine vinegar, and not too much olive oil.  It’s delicious with crackers or bread and I would head straight for it on my next antipasto platter.

One Year Ago: Heirloom Tomato Salad with Burrata (a knock-it-out-of-the-park dish)
Two Years Ago: Succotash

Roasted Eggplant Caponata
Adapted from From the Earth to the Table
Makes about 2 cups

In the heading of this recipe, Ash mentions that you can toss this mixture with pasta too.  Yum!

2 pounds eggplant, peeled or not as you please, slice lengthwise ¼-inch thick
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves roasted garlic
½ cup diced celery
1 14-oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp. rinsed capers
3 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp. golden raisins or currants
1/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Lay the eggplant slices on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.  Remove, coarsely chop, and reserve.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion, roasted garlic, and celery until softened  but not brown, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the capers, pine nuts, raisins, olives, brown sugar, and vinegar.  Over medium heat, cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the eggplant and season to your taste with the salt and red pepper flakes.  Serve at room temperature.  Can be stored, covered, in your refrigerator for up to 5 days.  (DT: The flavor gets better as it sits.)


  1. Dana – Before I went grocery shopping today I perused your blog for meal ideas. I am horrible at planning ahead for meals and you have so many ideas that seem straight forward, varied and delicious. I love the way you present them, too. Thanks!

    Comment by Anna — August 20, 2010 @ 10:24 pm

  2. This looks fantastic and I just bought big eggplants this morning! I, on the other hand, LOVE eggplant! I feel like it’s just so versatile and it seems to quell my husband’s desire for a “meaty” dish. I can’t wait to try this out on pasta- yum!

    Comment by Emily Rose — August 20, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

  3. I love this Sicilian relish, and it must have CELERY and RAISINS in the mix.
    LOVE it.

    Comment by staceysnacks — August 21, 2010 @ 2:21 am

  4. i love caponata,yours is delicious!

    Comment by alison — August 21, 2010 @ 3:49 am

  5. glad you’re coming over to the bright side of eggplant! it really is delicious. another dish to coax those who are hesitant is baingan bartha — an indian mashed eggplant with spice, peas and yogurt. i’ve not tried her version, but in a quick search molly’s recipe seems closest to the kind i’m used to and love: enjoy!



    Comment by heather — August 21, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  6. Fantastic dish. Great recipe for summer eggplants!

    Comment by Maria — August 22, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  7. Normally, I am not a fan of eggplant, but yours looks delicious. I hate the mushiness of eggplant (at least that’s the way my mom always made it)…but yours seems so ‘clean’ and non-mushy. The whole dish looks lovely.

    Comment by indie.tea — August 23, 2010 @ 11:16 am

  8. I have to say, I am an eggplant lover. But I understand your plight. I was a picky eater as a kid as well and I think in many ways, I’ve forced myself to like foods that I’ve hated as a kid. I just kept forcing myself to eat them until I made myself like that.

    I love caponata but haven’t quite found the PERFECT recipe yet. Could this be it? We shall see… it certainly looks good!

    Comment by Joanne — August 23, 2010 @ 5:35 pm

  9. I’m still wary of eggplant though I have had it a couple of times recently and it was very well done. This caponata looks so good that I will have to give eggplant another chance!

    Comment by Ashley — August 30, 2010 @ 10:40 pm

  10. Ooh I forgot to mention that I made this the other day & was delicious! We ate over pasta, but will enjoy the leftovers on crostini. Thanks!

    Comment by fresh365 — September 4, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

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