Saturday, July 16, 2011

Let's talk about "CAPONATA!"

Do you know what "caponata" is? With this word we generally refer to the caponata made of eggplants (or aubergines) but it's actually a generic word to indicate a specific Sicilian sweet & sour sauce with which we like to cook and season several kind of vegetables, but not only.
In ancient times people used to have it with fish and white meat as well, while today we make the traditonal one with eggplants and different other versions like artichokes, carrots and even green apples. Delicious!!!

What probably happened in the past was that rich and noble people used to have it with fish and meat, but the majority of the population coudn't afford it, so they just substituted the expensive food with a cheaper one, and the fried eggplant/aubergine was the perfect ingredient for its  soft consistency and its not particularly strong taste.

History: To talk a little bit more about the introduction of the caponata sauce in Sicily we have to go back to the Middle Age, during the Saracen domination. Infact they were the ones to introduce it in our island.
Its secret is the perfect balance between the sweet (sugar or honey) and the sour (vinegar).
Then capers, olives, onion, celery and tomato sauce were added in the following centuries on a drizzle of olive oil.

It was a dish that became very popular among Sicilian sailors on ships, because it was easier for them to eat the rusk on board with a more scented sauce.

For us it's a side dish or sometimes even a starter and definetely needs some fresh rustic bread to be appreciated at the most.

Recipe & preparation:
1 onion
200 gr green olives
50 gr salted capers
50 gr celery ribs
1 cup of tomato sauce
1/3 cup of sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons of vinegar
olive oil

1. In a small sauce pan put some water and blanch the celery already cut in pieces. 2. In a frying pan put some olive oil on a low heat and add the thinly chopped onion. 3. Let it sauteè a bit, then put some tomato sauce, celery, capers and olives. 4. Now for the sweet and sour sauce pour some vinegar first, then sugar and salt, one after the other.
It's always hard to define quantities precisely when you have a family recipe. As the flavor of the caponata has to be very balanced it's important to taste the sweet&sour sauce while cooking and adding sugar or salt or vinegar if needed.

If you want to do it with eggplants/aubergines we usually use 2 big rounded ones (the Tunisin type), we first put them under salt and fry them (read the exact process here). Different is for artichokes and carrots which are actually blanched or boiled and then  seasoned with the sauce on a medium heat.
I really hope you can enjoy this scrumptious dish as much as we do.  
I am sure you will lick the plate clean and can't wait to try another version of this wonderful recipe of our historical food tradition. A bit of caponata cheers your life up and everyone loves it, veggies and not veggies. Enjoy!


  1. Io ADORO la caponata! I LOVE caponata!:)

  2. Thanks Luly, glad you like it! :)

  3. Thank you for posting the recipe. I love Caponata and the last time I had was in 1989 when I was in Sicily visiting my grandparents. Thanks again :)

  4. So now you have to try and make it! Good luck :)