Caponata has been described as a stew by popular chefs. It can be so!
We love it served hot with pasta or at room temperature with fresh bread and bits of salami and cheese. It’s a great side vegetable served with fish or chicken. Generally caponata starts off frying onion, celery, eggplant, tomatoes and then ends up with olives and capers to give it that sweet and sour taste. It’s one of those favourite dishes that simmers away for quite some time.
Caponata became popular in the south of Italy especially in summer and tomato season when eggplants are abundant as well. Every region, in fact, every family probably has their own version.
My family always made a big pot of caponata on the day we bottled sauce. On tomato day we put extra sauce to make it thick and runny to go well with pasta. It tastes even better the next day which is why we also took it on family picnics to have with fresh crusty bread or with a sausage in a panino.
These days I prefer to roast the vegetables and put a separate tray of potatoes on as well. When it is ready I put the potatoes in to the caponata and usually have it with fish.
This is my version!
Serves 6 – 8
3 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 large Onion, chopped
1 large Eggplant, unpeeled, cut in cubes
1 green or red capsicum, sliced
2 cups celery, chopped thinly
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 (500ml) tomato passata (can of tomatoes)
1/2 cup Olives, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried Basil
1 tablespoon Capers, chopped
optional hot chilli (fresh chopped or dried flakes)
Fry the garlic, onion, eggplant, capsicum and celery in the oil.
Roast these ingredients in the oven until just ready as they will continue to cook in the sauce.
Place the cooked ingredients in a pot, and add salt, tomato, olives, herbs, capers and hot chilli.
Stir well and bring to a healthy simmer.
Allow to cook over low heat uncovered for about an hour, or cover it and cook over very low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally.
- The slow stewing method blends the flavours well.
- Caponata is great reheated.
- Mix with creamy cheese to make a great dip.
- Use as a base for pizza, just add cheese, salami etc.
- Freeze or bottle and preserve for the winter months.