How to cook like an Italian

Caponata- eggplant dish of the Gods

Caponata, or as my Sicilian family calls it, Capunatina, is a Southern Italian classic. Really it comes from Sicily and you can tell that this one has Arab roots. It’s easy to mess up Caponata so it’s important to take every ingredient seriously and take it slow. Here’s my recipe for this dish from heaven:

Take one eggplant and cut it into cubes. Don’t peel it-the skin adds flavor. Put the cubes in a colander and salt it liberally. Toss the cubes and let sit in the sink for an hour so the bitterness drains from the eggplant.

Meanwhile, cut up 4 stalks of celery, 1 onion, red or white, 1 cup black or green Sicilian olives (don’t use those Kalamatas that are all bitter and salty), 1/2 cup basil, and three cloves of garlic.

Saute garlic, onions and celery in a pan. Add 1/2 can of whole tomatoes or 3 fresh medium sized tomatoes, diced. If using canned, whole, then add them to the celery with their juices, but once in the pan, take a pair of scissors and cut them into pieces. Let this all simmer for 10 minutes, but add salt, pepper and a pinch of cinnamon. Add olives and (optional) raisins and pine nuts).

In a separate, large saute pan, add 1/3 cup of EVOO and let it get hot over medium heat. Add eggplant and saute until really cooked through. This step is key because if your eggplant isn’t all the way cooked, then it will taste funny and the texture will not be good. Once cooked, add the celery mixture to the eggplant and stir together. Let this cook, covered for 10-15 minutes on low heat. Taste it to see if it needs more salt or pepper and if it doesn’t taste rich enough, let it cook longer. When it is done add the basil and stir.

This dish can be served hot, cold or room temp with flatbread or pitas.

7 Responses to “Caponata- eggplant dish of the Gods”

  1. Ramya says:

    Ooh, this sounds delicious. I love your blog. Reading it makes me feel Italian even though I’m from India :-).

  2. Deedee says:

    racheal, I LOVE, Italian Food, I LOVE your program try to watch it everyday that I can. Sometimes not possible because I have to work. When I do watch you are always making something delicious. My only problem is , YOU DON’T DELIVER!!! I always think how lucky the camera crew and back stage people are because they get to eat what you make.
    Love you, Keep up the good work.

  3. medpro says:

    I Love watching Rachael Ray, I record your show on my DVR player. I have just recently been able to record and watch. I feel like a dunce cause I have no idea what EVOO means. could you give this dunce the meaning of EVOO please!! Thank you.. a late viewer. But a long time fan


  4. HI,, WE RAISE GARLIC, EGGPLANTS, all italian stuff plus my dad said in his part of italy they enjoyed raisins in everything.. do you have a special book on raisin cooking ? how about eggplants…i don’t imagine this will erver get to you cause your busy & on the go
    no need to say how much yur loved & must know it by now… i’m a mother or 5 grown abt. your age..also have lots of surgery for thyroid & palups,, next is a parathyroid surgery in albany..bestr of luck & God bless you,, your a tough one… angela barbone po box 284 st regis falls, ny 12980

  5. Heather says:

    EVOO is extra virgin olive oil

  6. Deborah says:

    what i see that people KEEP FORGETTING is AFTER you salt the EGGPLANTS and drain them you have to rinse OFF THE SALT or youll be really sorry
    rinse well in cold water and then put between palms and press since the eggplants like a sponge and it will soak up water ( and the salt you have to get rid of)
    then proceed
    Ive made eggplant in my life thousands of times including caponatoa and sometimes roasted caponata
    and any way you can or cant imagine working with eggplant
    Only ONCE I forgot to rinse off the salt and it was horrible pretty much inedible
    and I dont use alot of salt cooking I figure you can add it on the table if you want so I hold off on the salt pretty well if I was a salt freak then this dish would of been really horriffic we sorta ate around it
    and use KOSHER SALT it works the best and dont go crazy one layer will salt the others bottom layer u can line a cookie sheet or platter with layers of salted eggplant and put another sheet or platter on top to weight it down I use tomato cans or a pot with cans in it
    though sometimes i do use a cololander but only use it if its STAINLESS STEEL if its enamel youll kill it it will corrode the colander I had to throw my red one out the salt killed it
    And I drain it all off the juices often when it comes to mind
    after you salt and rinse them you can put them in a container in the frige and cook the next day more brown bitter liguid will be on the bottom to get rid of
    and pick heavy eggplants
    that means there fresh with moisture not older and dried out there is no truth to lighter ones have less seeds there just older the skin should be taunt and the top stem green
    Eggplant is a life long fave for me and my later on own family
    Im the eggplant expert!

  7. Charlene says:

    Got to eat in Pompeii after visiting the ruins. Small cafe just outside the ruins that tour bus stopped at. Had the freshest, tastiest tomatoe sauce on spaghetti ever eaten. Like fresh off the vine,can you suggest how it was prepared. Was much better than marinara etc. Thanks for your wonderful website.

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