Eggplant Caponata

This silky, tangy eggplant dish is an iconic Sicilian specialty, typically served as an appetizer or side dish. Beautifully absorbent, eggplant does an excellent job of soaking up the sweetness of the caramelized onions and raisins and the briny pungence of the capers and olives. Eleonora Consoli, a cooking teacher in Sicily, includes the unexpected addition of chocolate in her signature version of the dish. This eggplant caponata recipe first appeared in our March 2011 issue with the story, “Home Cooking in Sicily,” by Nancy Harmon Jenkins.


    • 3 cups olive oil
    • 2 lb. eggplant, cut into 1-in. cubes
    • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
    •  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste, thinned with ¼ cup water
    • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
    • 6 oz. green olives, pitted and finely chopped
    • ½ cup golden raisins
    • ½ cup white wine vinegar
    • ¼ cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
    • 3 Tbsp. sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. finely grated unsweetened chocolate
    • ½ cup finely shredded basil
    • 2 Tbsp. pine nuts


  1. To a large skillet set over medium-high heat, add the oil. Working in batches, add the eggplant and fry, tossing occasionally, until browned, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggplant to a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Pour off all but ¼ cup of the oil (you can reserve it for another use) and return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, season lightly with salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring continuously, until the mixture is a deep rust-brown color and the liquid has almost completely evaporated, 1–2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and continue cooking until slightly reduced and just beginning to thicken, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olives, raisins, vinegar, capers, sugar, and chocolate; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of a loose paste, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat then pour the sauce over the eggplant. Add the basil and pine nuts, and stir well. Season to taste with more salt and black pepper, and set the caponata aside to cool to room temperature before serving.

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