Caponata is a traditional Sicilian dish known for its unique blend of sweet and sour flavours. It originated in Sicily, Italy, and has been passed down through generations. Each family often has its own secret recipe, resulting in slight variations across different households. This particular recipe has been in my family by way of my second cousin Teresa. She came up with this version, which is a healthier twist on the traditional Caponata. While the traditional method involves deep frying each vegetable individually, Teresa opted to roast them, reducing the amount of oil used while still achieving delicious flavours and textures.
Caponata is a delightful combination of roasted vegetables, herbs, and a touch of sweetness from brown sugar and tanginess from balsamic vinegar. It's a dish that captures the essence of Sicilian cuisine, showcasing the fresh produce and vibrant flavours of the region. Each bite of Caponata is a celebration of Sicilian culinary heritage, and it's a true joy to savour a dish that has been lovingly prepared and shared through generations.
1 large eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 large fleshy bell peppers, cut into strips
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
15 pitted green olives
1 tablespoon of capers
1 large handful of mint leaves
4 tomatoes, roughly blended
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
2 large potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of red chilli flakes
4 tablespoons of olive oil (for roasting)
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggplant, bell peppers, celery, carrots, pitted green olives, capers, mint leaves (reserve some for decoration), blended tomatoes, minced garlic, diced onion, and potatoes. Sprinkle with red chilli flakes and toss everything together until evenly mixed.
Drizzle the vegetables with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and toss again to coat all the ingredients.
Spread the mixture evenly on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
Place the pan in the preheated oven and roast for about 35-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and slightly caramelised, stirring once or twice during cooking.
In the last 5 minutes of roasting, drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the vegetables and sprinkle the brown sugar. Gently toss everything together.
Remove the pan from the oven and let the Caponata cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, transfer the Caponata to a serving dish. Decorate with the reserved mint leaves.
For the best flavour, refrigerate the Caponata for a few hours or overnight before serving. Caponata is known to taste even better the next day when the flavours have melded together.
Serve the Caponata cold as a side dish or a topping for bread. Enjoy!
Note: Caponata is a versatile dish and can be enjoyed in various ways. Feel free to explore different serving options that suit your preferences. Each family may have its own unique additions or adjustments to the recipe, making it a truly personal and treasured Sicilian dish.