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recipe for sicilian eggplant caponata

The Best Sicilian Eggplant Caponata Recipe

A quick and easy vegan dish, delicious as a side or as a sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 1 hr
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4 portions
Calories 113 kcal


  • 1 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 650 g Eggplant cubed - that is the weight of about two medium eggplants
  • 100 g Thinly Chopped Onion
  • 2 cloves Fresh Garlic Chopped
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste
  • 10 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), add the oil 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 half inch (1-1.5cm) cubes and use a pan big enough that it only fills up about 3-4 cm and it takes me 10 minutes approximately on a low/medium flame.
  • 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 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 25 minutes or until the passata is cooked and you reach the consistency you like.
  • Once ready, sprinkle the basil leaves on top, adjust the seasoning, 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: 113kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 4gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 404mgPotassium: 789mgFiber: 6gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 737IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 49mgIron: 3mg
Keyword caponata, how to cook eggplant, tomato sauce
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