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All the secrets to prepare the real Sicilian caponata!

Caponata Siciliana

Caponata is one of the typical side dishes of Italian cuisine, Sicilian to be precise: this is how it is prepared with the traditional recipe!

It is one of the most famous side dishes of our local culinary culture: we are talking about the caponata, a fantastic mix of vegetables with a sweet and sour and savory taste. Like all traditional preparations, over the years many versions of this dish have spread, variants that use different dosages and ingredients, as well as different reinterpretations. Today we will prepare the original recipe of the Sicilian caponata, which you can make both in a pot and with the Thermomix if you have less time.

You are ready? Then follow us in the kitchen , and let's get started right away!

Caponata Siciliana
Caponata Siciliana

Preparation of the aubergine caponata

  1. To prepare the Sicilian caponata, start by cleaning the aubergines then slice them, cut them into cubes and put them in a colander. Sprinkle with coarse salt, cover with a weight and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes. After this time, rinse the vegetables, squeeze them well and dry them with kitchen paper.
  2. Continue with the preparation by chopping the celery and browning it in a pan with a drizzle of oil and the finely chopped onion.
  3. On the side, fry the aubergine cubes in a pan with seed oil until they are golden brown . Lift with a slotted spoon, place the fried vegetable on a sheet of kitchen paper and set aside.
  4. Add the olives and capers to the chopped celery and onion and cook for 5 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes and the tomato concentrate diluted with a ladle of water.
  5. Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes on a low flame, making everything simmer.
  6. Apart, toast the pine nuts.
  7. Melt the sugar and vinegar and pour it into the pan, stir and let the vinegar evaporate completely.
  8. At this point, add the aubergines, fresh basil and toasted pine nuts to the pan.
  9. Stir and cook for a couple more minutes. You just have to fix salt and pepper (if needed).

And here's a video recipe so you don't miss a single step:

Baked caponata: the light variant

Baked aubergine caponata
Baked aubergine caponata

If you want something lighter, but with the same flavors as the traditional caponata, we have a solution: the light caponata with baked vegetables! The ingredients are the same as in the classic recipe (except for the seed oil for frying), let's find out how to proceed in the preparation:

  1. Take the vegetables, wash them carefully and cut them into chunks (apart from the celery which can be cut into thin slices from the short side)
  2. Take the aubergines and let them drain for at least 30 minutes, with coarse salt and a weight.
  3. Once the required time has passed, squeeze the aubergines well and prepare a baking dish lightly greased with EVO oil.
  4. Arrange the aubergines, tomatoes, celery and carrot in the baking dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally to obtain uniform cooking.
  6. In the meantime, cut the olives and capers into small pieces and prepare the sweet and sour dish by dissolving the sugar in the wine vinegar.
  7. After the time has elapsed, open the oven , add capers, olives and sweet and sour to the pan and mix well.
  8. Cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Remove from the oven, decorate with a few fresh basil leaves and serve.


This recipe, in both versions, can also be kept for 3-4 days in the refrigerator (in an airtight container). If you want you can also portion it and freeze it in the freezer so that it lasts longer. We only recommend moving it to the refrigerator at least 4-5 hours before serving it at the table.

Read also
Caponata of aubergines and peppers, too tasty

Origins of caponata: meaning of the term

Why is this dish called caponata? In fact, there are many hypotheses, but here are the 3 most plausible:

derives from the Sicilian dialect “capone” . Capone in dialect stands for dolphinfish, a fish that was often used during meals in the homes of wealthy and aristocratic families and was often served sweet and sour. It is thought that the poorest had decided to emulate this dish, however using the cheaper aubergine as the basic ingredient.

comes from the Greek “capto” . The meaning of this verb in ancient Greek is to cut and in fact it describes well this preparation where all the ingredients of the caponata are cut into chunks.

comes from the Latin “caupona” . In Latin, the word caupona meant the old inn where men went to refresh themselves after a hard day's work. Caponata is a dish that could very easily have been born in these places and have inherited their name.

There are not only many theories on the origin of the name of the recipe, in Italy there are also many regional versions of this dish with subtle but important differences that define each area: just think that in Sicily alone there are over 30 different types !

Do you also love this vegetable ? Try many otherrecipes with aubergines !

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