Christmas Caponata – a Sicilian Treat

Posted on Posted in Europe, Foodie Travel, Holidays, Italy, Italy travel Concierge, Sicily

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 Caponata Recipecaponatina 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)

Buon appetito e Buon Natale

One thought on “Christmas Caponata – a Sicilian Treat

  1. Yes this is a fairly easy Sicilian side dish, my mother used to buy it in the special yellow cans. She made it as well, no wonder Sicilians are known the world over for there sensitive pallet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge