Sicilian caponata

Neil Perry
Serve your Sicilian caponata with bruschetta or with salad leaves.
Serve your Sicilian caponata with bruschetta or with salad leaves. Photo: William Meppem

Caponata can be served on bruschetta or with salad leaves, and it's also perfect as a side with roasted chicken, pork or beef. The sweet and sour nature of caponata lends itself to other vegetables: use fennel, artichoke or zucchini instead of the eggplant, or a combination of any of them.


2 medium eggplants, cut into 2cm dice

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

olive oil, for frying

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large brown onion, roughly chopped

4 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped

5 celery stalks, stringed and cut into

2cm dice

2 tbsp small salted capers, rinsed thoroughly in cold water

1/4 cup green olives, pitted and quartered

400g tin crushed tomatoes

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

3 tbsp chopped fresh basil


Sprinkle eggplant with salt and leave for 20 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse off the juices. Dry with paper towel.

Pour enough olive oil in a frying pan to reach 2cm up the sides. When it is hot and just about to start smoking, add eggplant and fry until coloured and soft (about 5 minutes) - you can do this in two batches. Drain eggplant on paper towel.

Drain oil from the pan and add 3 tbsp of fresh extra virgin olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add celery and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Return eggplant to pan then add capers and olives and toss together. Pour in the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and basil. Cook over low heat for 8 minutes.

Caponata can be served straight away or refrigerated to allow the flavours to combine further.


Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Dominic Smith.