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     Caponata Catanese Header

           Caponata Catanese (as made in Catania)

   Caponata Catanese Photo
Category: Vegetables
Servings: 4 - 6
Total time: 1 hr 30 min + overnight refrigeration
Level: Easy
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An authentic Italian recipe from our kitchen to yours. Buon Appetito!


- 1 1/2 to 2 pounds eggplant

- 1 large red bell pepper

- 1 large yellow bell pepper

- 2 tender stalks of celery

- 1 medium red onion

- 2 large tomatoes

- 1/2 cup castelvetrano or other green olives, drained and rinsed (use pitted or unpitted per your preference)

- 2 tablespoons salted capers

- 1/2 cup white wine vinegar

- 1 tablespoon sugar

- Toasted pine nuts (optional)

- Fresh basil leaves (optional)

- Extra virgin olive oil

- Salt

- Vegetable oil for frying


1.  Rinse the eggplant and remove any stems. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch pieces. Place the pieces into a colander and toss with 1 - 2 teaspoons salt. Place a heavy plate or bowl over the eggplant to weigh it down and press out its liquid. Set the colander aside and let the eggplant drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This removes the bitter taste from the eggplant.

2.  In the meantime, place the salted capers in a small strainer and rinse with water. Once rinsed, place the capers in a bowl with water and let sit for 15 minutes to further remove more of the salt.

3.  Rinse the peppers, and remove the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into strips roughly 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide.




4. Rinse the celery, remove the ends, chop it into small pieces and set aside.

5.  Slice the onion into 1/4 inch slices and set aside.

6.  Rinse and core the tomatoes, then chop them and set aside.

7.  In a large pot, add about 2 inches of your preferred oil for frying. Heat the oil over medium high heat to roughly 350 degrees. While waiting for the oil to come to temperature, line a sheet pan or large plate with paper towels.

8.  After the liquid has drained from the eggplant, thoroughly rinse the eggplant in the colander under fresh water to remove the salt. Drain the water from the colander well and pat the rinsed eggplant with paper towels to dry them further.

9.  When the oil has come to temperature, fry the eggplant in batches by gently adding a portion of the eggplant to the hot oil and frying until golden brown on all sides. Once fried, strain the eggplant from the hot oil and place the pieces on the paper towels to drain further.

10.  Next, fry the peppers in batches in the same pot of frying oil. The peppers are ready when they have softened and begin to brown along the edges. Once the peppers have finished frying, thoroughly strain them from the oil, place them into a bowl and set aside. After you have finished frying, remove the pot of oil from the heat and let cool before discarding.

11.  For the tomato sauce, add 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 cup water to a large sauté pan along with the onions and heat over medium high heat. When the mixture comes to temperature and begins to sizzle, sauté for about 2 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. Then add the chopped celery to the pan. Continue sautéing for another 3 minutes, adding more water to the pan if it becomes too dry.

12.  Once the celery begins to soften, add the chopped tomato to the pan along with any of the juice from the tomatoes. Stir all ingredients to combine well and bring the mixture to a simmer. As the mixture heats, drain the soaked capers and add them to the tomato mixture along with the drained and rinsed green olives. If you want to use basil to add more flavor to your dish, add 3 - 4 leaves of basil to the sauce at this point. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

13.  While the sauce is cooking, combine the vinegar and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar is mostly dissolved. After 10 minutes of simmering the sauce, add the vinegar and sugar mixture to the pan and stir well to combine. Raise the heat to medium high and simmer for 2 - 3 minutes until you no longer smell the strong odor of vinegar coming from the sauce.

14.  At this point, add the fried eggplant and peppers to the sauce and gently stir all ingredients together in the pan so that the sauce coats the eggplant and peppers well. Cook for another 5 - 7 minutes and then taste the dish and add salt as desired.

15.  Remove the pan from the heat and place the caponata into a serving dish or a container for refrigeration. Wait until the caponata has cooled to room temperature and either serve or place the caponata in the refrigerator overnight to serve cold the next day.

16.  If you want to add toasted pine nuts, prior to serving, add the pine nuts to a small pan and heat over medium heat. Constantly stir the nuts until they become fragrant and begin to very lightly brown. Immediately remove them from the heat and sprinkle over the caponata to serve and garnish with fresh basil.


- There are over 30 official recipes for authentic Sicilian Caponata in Italy; additionally, every family has their variation on the ideal "traditional" recipe. Please use this recipe, from the Catania area of Sicily, as a general guide and customize it to your preference.

- The best eggplant for this recipe are the smaller, longer varieties that remain firm after cooking or frying. The larger round eggplant will be soggier in this dish.

- This dish is best when it is refrigerated overnight and served the next day either cold or at room temperature.