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Colourful Caponata


Caponata is rather a majestic dish considering the simplicity of both its ingredients and preparation.  This Sicilian dish of aubergine, pepper and celery is most often served as a cooked salad on top of thick Italian bread dipped in olive oil and rubbed with garlic and basil.  The combination of capers and sultanas lends a ‘sweet and sour’ element that elevates this simple food to delicious heights.  Traditionally you would use a combination of vinegar and honey to produce the Caponata’s intense flavours, but as vinegar is out of bounds for people avoiding yeast I have replaced it with a combination of lemon juice and agave syrup; the effect is a wonderfully fragrant and tangy aubergine dish that is rounded out by the addition of golden, toasted pine nuts.

Caponata should be eaten cold and chilled for at least four hours before being served in order to allow the flavours to infuse sufficiently.  I adore eating Caponata as part of antipasti: a plate full of cured meats, roasted peppers, buffalo mozzarella (for those that can) and a bowl of sharp but sweet Caponata makes for a wonderful summertime supper.  But equally, like the true heathen that I am, I like to eat Caponata stirred through some freshly cooked penne with the addition of a handful of chopped parsley and few torn leaves of oregano.  Mmm...sacrelicious!  However you choose to eat it, Caponata is a must make for these increasingly warm spring evenings.


Serves 4

3 medium aubergines

1 yellow pepper

6 ripe tomatoes

2 celery sticks

1 large red onion

12 black olives

2 tbsp sultanas

2 tbsp of capers, drained

2 tbsp olive oil plus extra for drizzling

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp agave syrup


Cut the aubergines, pepper, tomatoes, onion and celery in to equal sized pieces, approximately 1 ½ cm in size.  Place all of the ingredients – excluding the lemon juice and agave syrup – in to a large, heavy based saucepan with a lid and mix together gently so that all of the vegetables are coated in the olive oil.

Cover and cook over a fairly high heat for 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened but are not collapsing.  Add the lemon juice and agave syrup to the pan and season well, reduce the heat a little, cover and simmer gently for another 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (the tomatoes may have collapsed but the celery and aubergine should still be holding their shape).  Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature, cover and then chill for a further 3 hours.  When ready to serve, scatter with the toasted pine nuts.

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Reader Comments (6)

just tried this out, wonderful, thankyou.
Wonderful combination of textures and tastes

April 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

If this is what heathen food looks and tastes like, get me a ticket to hell!

April 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterC.B.

Julia, so glad you like it, i love the combination of sweet and sharp you get from the salty capers and rich agave syrup.

C.B I'm with you there! Thanks for commenting.

April 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Intolerant Gourmet

This is on the menu for me this week, gorgeous looking meal! Love your blog, am going to try the parsnips Provencal recipe in the next week too.Yum!

April 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSian

Hi Sian, thanks for your message. I'm so glad you like the look of it; it is as colourful as it is yum! Let me know how it goes!

April 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Intolerant Gourmet

Thanks for your nice suggestion. i am reading your Colourful Caponata recipe. this is very favorite dis. thank u very muchhhhh :)

May 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGourmet Free

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