From the spanish “caponada” the word “caponata” derives from “capone”, name with which in some areas of Sicily it’s called the “lampuga”, a precious fish once eaten only by  the aristocracy, seasoned with the bittersweet sauce tipic of the caponata. People who couldn’t afford this expensive fish,  replaced it with the cheaper aubergines.

Recipe for 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 kg of aubergines
  • 200 g of white olives without nuts
  • 500 g of red tomatoes
  • 400 g of celery (only stems)
  • 50 g of capers without salt
  • 60 g pine nuts
  • 2 white onions
  • 50 g of sugar
  • 50 g of white vinegar
  • one handful of big salt
  • 300 g of seed oil
  • extra virgin olive oil

Preparation

  1. Cut the aubergines into cubes, sprinkle them with coarse salt and let them rest in a colander for at least 1 hour in order to remove their bitter essence.
  2. Cut the celery into smal cubes, put it in a pot with lightly salted boiling water, let it soften for 5 minutes. Drain and place it on a cotton cloth
  3. Chop the onions and fry in a little oil. Then add the capers, the olives and the pine nuts and to let cook for 10 minutes over medium heat ;
  4. Cut the tomatoes into cubes and cook in the pan with the onion for 20 minutes until you have a well blended mixture
  5. Saute celery in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil
  6. Drain the eggplant, dry and fry in 300 grams of vegetable oil and then, once fried, drain them and add them to the mix with onions.Also add the celery, stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes then add the vinegar and sugar.
  7. Let it deglaze, then turn off and serve the caponata with basil.

The palermitan caponata is the simplest and the most classical version.

There are also many other variations, as the ones of Agrigento, Catania, Messina and Trapani.

The Agrigento version  addes the peppers arramascati, honey, garlic, Cayenne pepper, pine nuts or almonds and dry raisins.

Catania‘s caponata includes  yellow and red peppers. In some local variations you can find garlic and potatoes.

Messina‘s recipe is different from that of Palermo for the presence of peeled tomatos instead of sauce.

In Trapani version we find in addition peppers, vinegar and toasted almonds.