Vegan Caponata Sauce (Eggplant and tomato sauce)

tomato sauce caponata
This vegan eggplant caponata recipe can be served as a side dish, on top of some toasted bread, as a sauce for pasta… you name it!

Caponata: tasty vegan sauce


I love eggplant! And not in the way ‘yeah, I like to have them now and then’ – I mean it! 


Fried, on pizza, in sauces, grilled in sandwiches… they are my favorite vegetable! 


Eggplant Caponata is an Italian sauce that originated in the beautiful region of Sicily, where the sun shines and eggplant and tomatoes can be grown happily. It is a traditional dish and as such, the recipe changes from village to village and from family to family, but it always maintains that one spectacular ingredient. 


This vegan eggplant caponata recipe can be served as a side dish, on top of some toasted bread, as a sauce for pasta… you name it! 


It is so good you can have it hot, warm or room temperature, in summer or in winter; you get the drill… a perfect all-rounder! 


Why Eggplant 


Eggplant is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and it is said to help with digestion


But this is not all; Egg plant has been linked to: increased brain function, improved bone and heart health, assistance with cholesterol levels, improved skin appearance… and so many others. 


Although eggplant originated in India, it has spread so much across Europe I can’t think of a Mediterranean nation that doesn’t enjoy it one way or another. 


Caponata is one of the ways this great vegetable is used and here’s my version, which is straightforward, it removes pine nuts and raisins (not a big fan of raisins and they have quite a bit of sugar and calories!), but it maintains the flavor and versatility. Hope you enjoy it! 


Vegan -and Light - Caponata Sauce (Eggplant - or aubergine - and tomato sauce with a twist)

This vegan eggplant caponata recipe can be served as a side dish, on top of some toasted bread, as a sauce for pasta… you name it!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Low Calorie, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: caponata, how to cook eggplant, tomato sauce
Servings: 4 portions
Calories: 113kcal


  • 10 Sprays Cooking Spray
  • 370 g Eggplant cubed (that is the weight of about one medium/large eggplant)
  • 50 g Thinly Chopped Onion
  • 10 g Fresh Garlic Chopped
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 20 Pitted Green Olives
  • 1 Tbsp Capers in Brine Drained
  • 500 g Tomato Passata
  • Basil Leaves to Taste


  • In a large frying pan (for which you have a lid), spray the cooking spray and warm-up; once warm add the eggplant, onion, and garlic and cook on medium heat until the eggplant cubes are nearly cooked. The time required will mainly depend on the size of the cubes and of the pan; I normally chop the eggplant into 1 cm cubes and use a pan big enough that it only fills up about 3-4 cm and it takes me 15 minutes approximately.
  • While the eggplant cubes are cooking, roughly chop the green olives and wash the basil leaves, and set aside.
  • Once the eggplant pieces are nearly cooked, add the salt, pepper, capers, and green olives, mix well and then add the 500g of passata and one cup of water (I usually put the water in the passata box to ‘clean the tomato out’).
  • Bring to the boil, put the lid on, and leave to simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes or until the passata is cooked and you reach the consistency you like.
  • Once ready, sprinkle the basil leaves on top, mix and serve.


I think I have spared enough good words for this recipe, so let’s go straight to the practical tips!
You can use any color onion you prefer or have; as an Italian and Indian household we normally have red or brown, so you will mostly see me using one of those.
If you do not have fresh garlic, you can use fresh-frozen but please do not substitute it with paste, as it does not taste the same.
As I often mention, I like to use cracked black pepper, not powdered, as again… it does taste different! If you do not have it, you can definitely substitute it with powdered pepper, but be mindful this may be stronger.
For this recipe, I use very often green olives, but many people do not like them, so you can absolutely substitute them with black olives… it may not be traditional, but definitely delicious!
Capers in brine are quite tangy because of the vinegar in the brine, which many people like - if you don’t, skip them! Personally, I love them and use them quite often in multiple recipes, so I occasionally add a bit more in this one.
Passata has a silky smooth texture and consistency, but for a more chunky sauce, substitute it with canned chopped tomatoes, freshly chopped plum tomatoes, or chopped cherry tomatoes on the vine… each type of tomato has its own flavor, convenience, strength… they’re all different, so change the recipe each time you prepare it or use the tomato sauce you have, it will work!
Fresh basil leaves are very tasty and fresh, not really interchangeable with the dry ones, but a full bunch can be hard to use; I buy my basil freshly frozen and add to my recipes as needed. This way I don’t have any wastage but still maintain the flavor. For an added layer (or instead of the fresh basil!) stir a teaspoon of basil pesto into the sauce… you’ll thank me later!
Should you wish to add pine nuts, you can; you will need to lightly toast them until golden in a pan without any oil at all, just on its own. Do not overcook/overtoast! Add at the end of the the vegan eggplant and tomato sauce recipe.
Should you wish to modify with a layer of ‘sweetness’, add a finely chopped sweet pepper (either red or yellow) when you are cooking the eggplant cubes… absolutely divine!
For a kick of chili... add some crushed red chilies when you add the olives and capers.
As usual, if you are counting calories, you should recalculate after each change!


Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 404mg | Potassium: 789mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 737IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg
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2 Responses

  1. This is so very good. Very easy too. I make this recipe over and over. It is a crowd pleaser.5 stars


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