Caponata

A hyper-local dish, you don't ever want to engage a Sicilian in a debate over whose mother makes the best caponata. Gary Portuesi lends us his recipe.
Photo by Aaron Graubart

Courtesy Gary Portuesi, president, Authentic Sicily

“Like apple pie in the U.S., caponata is a dish where every family has their own recipe and varies from town to town,” says Portuesi. “Some parts of the island include peppers, while others top it off with chocolate. This is my mother’s recipe, from Castellammare del Golfo on the Northwest coast.”

Classic At-Home Sicilian Cooking Recipes
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant, cut into ½-inch dice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • ½ pound pitted, halved green olives
  • 1½ tablespoons rinsed capers
  • ½ cup tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Toast, for serving (optional)
Directions

Place eggplant in bowl of cold, salted water. Let soak 90 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add eggplant and celery. Cook 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

In separate skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat. Add onion, olives, capers and tomato purée. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Add eggplant mixture. Cook another 5 minutes.

Raise heat to medium-high. Add sugar and vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 3 minutes to thicken and blend flavors. Serve cold or at room temperature with toast (if desired), garnished with basil leaves. Serves 4–6.

Pair It

Frank Cornelissen 2014 Susucaru Rosato (Terre Siciliane). “Not typical, natural and lots of skin contact make this rosé super fun to sip on its own, but surely jumps out of the bottle even more with some great food,” says Rice. “This wine can stand up to the vibrant acidity in caponata, while also highlighting the delicate flavor of the vegetables.”

Published on March 21, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net



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