Today we will talk about a great Italian dish: Sicilian caponata, just saying the name of this recipe makes your mouth water, but at the same time creates many diatribes.
What is Sicilian caponata?
It’s a simple stew of eggplant in tomato sauce, so why all this fuss about some veggies?
Speaking about the original caponata recipe is tricky, is not pasta cacio & pepe that is carved in stone, every cook, every cooking enthusiast like different shades, more or less crispy cooking, in short, will not be easy…
But let’s start from an indisputable point: the ingredients. First of all, eggplants, which must be firm and ripe, but at this time should not be a problem to find them.
Then celery, capers, olives, tomato puree (obviously the good homemade stuff) and the final touch of vinegar-sugar to give to the dish the typical sweet and sour flavor.
The variant with peppers is a fabulous caponata, but is typical of the Catania area, just to tell you.
If you want to eat two of the best “caponata” of Italy, the places to visit are Don Ciccio in Bagheria and Da Pino located in Palermo. Two historic trattorie that every lover of Sicily should visit at least once in their life, not just for food, but also for the warmth with which you’ll welcome.
Sicilian caponata ingredients
- 3 plump eggplant
- 1 onion
- 1 whole piece of celery
- 4 tablespoons of capers
- 6 tablespoons of olives
- extra virgin olive oil, a lot: the aubergines must swim in a golden sea. At least 2 glasses
- 4 tablespoons of vinegar
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- salt and pepper
- 150 ml of grandma pureed tomato
How to make the perfect Sicilian caponata
Cut eggplants into 1,5 cm slices, cover with coarse salt and let them rest, well-stacked in a colander.
Meanwhile, quickly blanch celery in boiling water, 5 minutes are enough. Then cut it into thin slices.
After one hour wash eggplants, pat dry and cut into cubes.
Slice onion and simmer in plenty of olive oil for 10 minutes, then add eggplants, the rest of the oil, season with salt and pepper and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Rinse the capers to remove the salt and chop.
Add tomato puree, stir well and throw in capers, olives, celery, then continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
Put sugar and vinegar in a bowl and stir to dissolve it.
Switch off and season with the vinegar to give to the caponata that unmistakable sweet and sour aftertaste.
If you want to prepare caponata with peppers, add 2 medium-sized peppers, cut them into slices and put them in the pan with eggplants.
As only advice for a perfect eggplant caponata, use a thick-bottomed pan so that the heat is transmitted uniformly and continuously.
A lighter and super quick variation is the caponata with (raw) cherry tomatoes instead of tomato sauce, an excellent pic-nic recipe. Just remember to add a sprig of thyme to add a bit of aromatic flavor.
If you want to serve delicious and easy finger food for your next aperitivo, make the basic recipe and then serve it on toasted bread as bruschetta. With a little bit of additional work, you will serve a great snack for your Dry Martini!
Suggested wine pairings
Red wines are ok, but, please, do not pair too strong and tannic wine: eggplants have a strong and tangy flavor too so a light Nerello Mascalese (or Sangiovese) is ok, but do not uncork Tannant or Cabernet Sauvignon. If you like bubble, Champagne, Prosecco or Trentodoc are fine too.