appetizer, Brunch, CONDIMENTS, Food, Recipes, Side dishes, Vegetables


Caponata Ronit Penso

When I’ve found some ripe tomatoes, eggplants and peppers at the farm stand, I’ve decided it’s time to prepare a nice batch of Caponata – a tasty sweet and sour Sicilian eggplant dish.
Caponata is wonderful as a side dish, especially with fish and seafood, but also with chicken and other meats. It is also wonderful as a topping for Crostini, and can also be served as a dip, with crackers or toasted points.

There are many versions for this dish, and the one I have here is the result of trying several over the years. Unlike in most of them, I prefer not to deep-fry the eggplant first. I find they hold their shape without it and the dish is obviously less heavy, but not less tasty.
Most of these versions don’t have carrots in them, but I definitely love the texture and flavor they add, so you’ll find them here.
While reducing the amount of vinegar (most recipes call for up to 1 cup, which I find overwhelming), I’ve added some acidic flavors from red wine, sun dried tomatoes, tomato paste and Balsamic vinegar. Instead of sugar I’ve used honey, which adds not only sweetness but wonderful aroma.
One ingredient that is usually found in most versions is pine nuts, which I usually love, but not here. So feel free to add it if you prefer.
Another difference you’ll find in this version is that I prefer to bake the dish for a couple of hours, rather than cook it stove top only. I find that baking adds another layer of flavors, with an added bonus of not having to mix the dish occasionally while cooking.
As tasty as the Caponata is immediately after cooking, it tastes even better after a night in the fridge and served cold. It can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to ten days.
The quantities given here are more of a general guideline. Feel free to create your own version and enjoy this tasty dish.

Makes: 8 cups
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking/baking time: 3 hours

4 Tbs olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 medium eggplants, unpeeled, cubed
4 medium peppers (I’ve used red and purple ones, but any will do)
3 medium carrots, diced small
4 stalks celery, preferably from the center, chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cubed
1 Tbs salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
3 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
A handful of capers
A handful of golden raisins
10-12 green olives, sliced (I used olives stuffed with pimento)
2 Tbs honey
2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs tomato paste
1 cup red wine

1. Mix the oil and diced onion in a wide pot and sauté gently over medium-high heat, just until the onions soften. Gradually add the rest of the vegetables, one by one, mixing gently and sautéing for a few minutes after each addition.
Caponata Ronit Penso
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2. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium low and cook for 30 minutes, covered. Taste and adjust seasoning.
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3. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 195F (90C). Bake, covered, for 1½ hours. Uncover the pot and bake for 30 minutes longer. Bring to room temperature and place in the fridge overnight. Serve cold or at room temperature.
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Caponata Ronit Penso

54 thoughts on “Caponata”

  1. Oh, WOW! MMMMMMM! Right up our alley. Although not even close to vegetarians, we truly do love this sort of mélange. I finally threw out my capers, not having found a good use for them in over a year. 😦

    I make little medallions of toast in the Cusinart Oven Central with my sourdough bread and pile on a mixture of whatever looks good in my little containers in the refrigerator. Since the top of the oven heats up, the top of the treat (or the cheese) heats beautifully and quickly.

    Our smaller (read: old people!) appetites find this to be perfect instead of a big meal. It’s like living in a perpetual cocktail party with heavy hors d’oeuvres to sample. And GREAT for not wasting any bits of edibles!

    Virtual hugs,


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Same here – not even close to vegetarian, but can’t imagine not having a large selection of vegetables cooked or fresh, every day.

      lol “living in a perpetual cocktail party”… sounds great!
      Why throw away capers?! they are so great with so many dishes, especially with vegetables, like in this recipe. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The poor lonely capers were several years old, and I wanted the jar to use for something else! So they were sacrificed! I *had* used them once for whatever purpose I purchased them for, but never did find an additional need. Apparently I didn’t look hard enough!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh gosh, I am about to post my Caponata recipe…. please allow me not to read yours until I post my own – and please do not take it wrong as if I had copied or imitated yours!! Btw, I enjoyed Israeli dishes and wines today 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. What a coincidence again!
        I ate lots of Israeli salad, Baba Ganoush, Falafels, Hummus, Matbucha and Pita bread – all delicious! and 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon from Tishbi was marvelous – went well with falafels :-9

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh that sounds good! I love Tishbi wines though have to admit never would think of pairing them with humus and falafel, but now I’m thinking – why not??? 🙂

          Another coincidence is that I’m actually soaking chickpeas for preparing falafel tomorrow. I love the Israeli/Yemenite version with lots of herbs, which not everyone here is familiar with.

          If interested, you can check the recipe for my version here:

          Liked by 1 person

              1. Eventually, I posted it! We share some ideas/ingredients but are just in the opposite – you made it lighter with lots of vegetables, which is good!! Unlike mine, I could tons and couldn’t stop eating it. I will try yours with my passata!

                Caponata is wonderful…. Whenever I eat caponata, I think I could become a vegetarian. (Once I tried it – rather vegan – for several months, but couldn’t go through the winter – felt too cold!)

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Caponata brings back memories of childhoom. My Mom used to make it with the vegetables grown from our garden. It’s one of my favorite vegetable dishes. I think your recipe is just perfect. We kept big jars of it and used to use it as a condiment and dip. It’s just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I quite agree … Love the flavors of capanota after a night of refrigeration. I love the version you’re offering here, Ronit. Subtle differences from what I’m used to, yet quite unique and flavorful too. My garden is overproducing eggplant right now and if the tomatoes would hurry up and ripen, I’ll be giving your recipe a try soon! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Judi, I’m glad you liked the recipe.
      It is indeed a great one to play with, add or omit ingredients according to taste.
      I agree – the amount of vinegar in most recipes is overwhelming. I guess it started in the days when they wanted to preserve the dish longer. I do prefer it less harsh and so use wine and small amount Balsamic vinegar instead. Hope it will work for you too. 🙂


  5. This looks and sounds so wonderful, and I’m sitting here wondering why I’ve never made caponata. Oh yes, because my husband won’t eat half of the ingredients in the list, and he doesn’t like sweet mixed with savory, so I’m pretty much banned from dried fruit. I think I’ll make your recipe and invite friends over!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a colorful caponata Ronit, love all the flavors in it too. I’ve only made it once for a party, but this is reminding me to make it again with all the fresh produce that is available. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your dish sounds wonderful, Ronit, and how I do love caponata. Just today I was eyeing the eggplants in my garden and dreaming of caponata and lasagna. Mom made hers with only vegetables. She always set a bit of it aside and used it to make a frittata for our lunch the next day. Even now, I’ll put aside a bit for a frittata. Some habits, especially the tasty ones, are hard to break. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you John, I’m glad you liked my “mix and match” recipe.
      It is indeed such a great dish, and so versatile.
      I have your book with the wonderful recipes from your family and plan to prepare your family’s version too. I like the idea of adding zucchini and mushrooms, and will definitely try the frittata. Some habits don’t need to be broken… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is really lovely Ronit! It’s so delish and a perfect idea for summer harvest. I just made a batch and froze it in smaller containers for entertaining. Thank you for this yummy version.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your posts disappeared from my feed. I missed them. I haven’t heard from you in a while. I’m hoping to have cookbook out in time for Christmas. It’ll be called, “Around the World With Good Food.” The cookbook will have the recipes shown in my food blog. I’d be honored if you’d write me a blog for the cookbook. Thank you.

    – Paul De Lancey
    can be reached in the comments section on my blogs.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that I’ve seen your comment, it occurred to me that I too haven’t seen your posts in a while! Not sure what happened.
      As for a post, I’m not sure what you’re looking for but I think one of the Sephardic recipes can be used, as it is a cuisine that not too many know about. One example:
      Let me know if that’s what you had in mind and we’ll go from there.
      You can also email me at:


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