Tell a little kid that Zia is making caponatina and it truly is like Christmas morning. The Sicilian version of bruschetta, caponata (also known as caponatina in dialect), is a savory blend of eggplant, tomatoes, capers and a whole bunch of love. After all, there is no other way to cook for a Sicilian.
The history books will tell you that the side dish came from the island’s Moorish heritage. Fuhgettaboutit! It came from Zia’s kitchen and no one can tell me differently: a handful of this, a shake of that, lots of garlic, tomatoes and eggplant and voilà! The only problem is that the recipe now lives in the afterlife with Zia and Nonna and I was left to guess when trying to surprise my family with this favorite Christmas appetizer.
Here goes nothing:
1 medium eggplant chopped 3T sugar
1 small sweet onion chopped 20 green manzanilla or green olives
5 cloves of garlic smashed & chopped 1T capers
3 stalks of celery chopped 1T chopped fresh basil
2 14.4 oz (411g) cans diced tomatoes oven-roasted pine nuts
Himalayan seat salt & black pepper to taste & extra virgin olive oil
Sautée eggplant with 1T extra virgin olive oil. Careful not to fry and add water 1T at a time as needed to keep eggplant moist. Cook for 20 minutes, cover & remove from heat.
Sautée onion, garlic & celery in 1T olive oil; add two cans of tomatoes & cooked eggplant. Sprinkle sugar 1T at a time to taste but not too sweet. Add sea salt & black pepper to taste, cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add olives and capers and remove from heat. Stir in basil and let sit.
Sprinkle pine nuts on top and serve at room temperature or cold.
I created it as I went along, that’s what we do in the kitchen. Sprinkle it all with love and place it in a mason jar with a big bow. The perfect foodie Christmas gift.
FOODIE SECRET: Fuhghettabout eating this as an appetizer. Get a chunk of your favorite Italian bread and it’s a meal in itself.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour
Cooking Level: Extremely easy (Novice)