This recipe for Eggplant Caponata is a delicious, non-traditional Italian appetizer made with roasted eggplant, olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, pine nuts and capers. This baked eggplant appetizer provides a different take on the Sicilian classic -simultaneously sweet and sour, with just one bite, you’re hooked!
Consider for a moment the versatility of the eggplant.
Grilled, roasted, broiled, air fried, baked, stir-fried, stewed, stuffed, fried, or even pureed; there’s a reason why the eggplant is so widely used in Asia, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
As far as Italian cuisine is concerned, one of the most popular eggplant dishes is melanzane alla parmigiana or eggplant Parmesan.
But for now, I’d like to sing the praises of this roasted eggplant caponata which is simultaneously sweet and savory. It makes one of the best eggplant appetizers I know! Not to mention that it can also be deliciously snuggled into sandwiches!
Truth be told, if I had to choose between having one main dish or just grazing my way through a few appetizers, I would definitely choose appetizers.
Simple and tasty appetizers like these Italian marinated mushrooms, marinated olives, roasted bell pepper goat cheese bites and the ever-popular tomato basil bruschetta are truly crowd pleasers whether serving them as appetizers or part of your cheeseboard.
Oh, I almost forgot to include my lupini!
In fact, I have gathered all of my favorite Italian Appetizers in one article. Be sure to check it out.
This easy caponata recipe is definitely one that I will be adding to my repertoire of vegetarian appetizers.
Why love this recipe?
- This caponata makes the perfect appetizer when serving with a toasted baguette and/or crackers.
- It can be made ahead of time -it actually tastes better after 24 hours.
- It’s cheaper and healthier than any commercial brand.
- It can be frozen for up to a year.
- Use it in burgers, sandwiches, as a pasta topping, as a vegetable side with grilled meats or chicken -it really is so versatile!
There are very few Italian eggplant recipes that can easily elicit an OMG feeling from the very first bite. One such recipe is this roasted eggplant caponata and you won’t believe how easy it is to make!
How to make eggplant caponata
The first thing we need to do is to rinse and dry 1-2 Italian eggplants, about 2 pounds. Then, with a very sharp knife, remove both ends.
With the help of a vegetable peeler, begin to peel the eggplant lengthwise. Once the outer peel has been removed, cut lengthwise and then into ¼-inch thick strips.
Place the eggplant strips in a bowl and toss with one teaspoon of salt. Transfer to a colander set over the bowl and allow to sit for about one hour.
Meanwhile, whisk together a ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of honey and ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar. Mix in 1 tablespoon of capers, well rinsed, and 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. Set it aside.
When the eggplant is ready, gently squeeze the eggplant to remove the excess liquid. Combine the eggplant with the mixture and place it in a baking dish.
Cover and bake for about 45-60 minutes in a 350° F oven. This mixture should be stirred every 10 minutes or so. Once the eggplant has softened, remove the cover and continue to bake for about 15 minutes, this will allow a little browning. You will notice that this eggplant caponata cooks down almost to a compote consistency.
Once the roasting is complete, please remove it from the oven and allow it to cool down completely. Although it can be used immediately, the flavors intensify if allowed an overnight stay in the fridge.
In fact, the longer this caponata sits, the better the taste.
How to serve
Whether serving it hot or at room temperature, it’s the perfect appetizer when served with focaccia or piadina. It also pairs wonderfully as a side dish with this recipe for Italian cod. Versatility and simplicity at their best!
How to store
Cover and refrigerate any leftovers for up to 5 days. When ready to serve, bring it to room temperature.
Healthy appetizers we love
We recently had a little family get-together at my sister’s house. And as usual, everything my sister made was out of this world. Did I mention that she is a professional chef and has her own restaurant? My mom’s passion for cooking and baking had such a positive effect on her kids! (Yes, that includes my brother who is a great “home” chef. Blink twice if you’re being held captive, you say. 😉 )
Okay, enough family business and back to the real business of food. As I was saying, I tasted this caponata at our recent get-together and I thought this was such an amazing recipe that I just had to share it with all of you. By the way, if you are looking for the classic Sicilian caponata with tomatoes and celery, head on over to The Petite Cook.
The funny thing about my sister’s recipe is that you will absolutely love this sweet and sour caponata recipe, even if you don’t like eggplants. You absolutely need to try this guaranteed crowd-pleaser! Enjoy 🙂
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Ciao for now,
★★★★★ If you have made this caponata recipe, I would love to hear about it in the comments below and be sure to rate the recipe!
- 1-2 Italian eggplants about 2 pounds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers well rinsed
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove outer peel from eggplant.
- Cut lengthwise and then cut into strips. (about ¼" strips)
- Sprinkle eggplant strips with salt. Toss together.
- Transfer to a colander set over a large bowl and let drain for about 1 hour.
- In the meanwhile, whisk together equal parts of olive oil, honey and balsamic vinegar.
- Add capers and pine nuts and set them aside for now.
- When the eggplant is ready, try to squeeze as much liquid as possible from it.
- Combine the eggplant and the mixture and transfer to a baking dish.
- Cover the dish and bake at 350 ° F for about 45-60 minutes or until the eggplant is soft (stir mixture every 10 minutes or so).
- Remove cover and continue to bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Taste and adjust for seasonings.
Feel free to add garlic, olives, even cherry tomatoes...make it your own and enjoy, like my sister did! Please keep in mind that the nutritional information provided below is just a rough estimate and variations can occur depending on the specific ingredients used.
This post was originally published on June 28, 2015 and republished on June 9, 2018 with updated content and photos.
Christina Van Wallendael
I tried your recipe and the flavor is delicous. I cut the recipe in half-just so that we could see if we liked it. We inhaled it as soon as it came out of the oven.
Have you ever made it with cubed eggplant? Will the eggplant over cook if it is cubed?
How wonderful Christina, so glad you enjoyed this caponata. I have never tried using cubed roasted eggplant. I love roasted cubed eggplant as a side dish but I’m not sure it would work in this dish. I would love to hear about your results if you do decide to try it.
Delicious! Love the combination of flavors. Definitely a keeper but I would put a little less honey for my taste. Thanks Maria.
My pleasure Cynthia! Thanks so much for taking the time to share.
how long can I store this recipe in the fridge or tabletop, can it be frozen
Thanks for your interest Lou. It can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge. Yes, it can be frozen for up to 3 months and still taste great.
This looks amazing and a lot healthier than its fried alternative!
🙂 I’ve got to try this!
Thanks so much Riccardo! Enjoy!
I have been roasting the cubed eggplant with skin for years. I then simmer the caponata until the skin is tender. I make it often as my Sicilian mother did.
Sounds delicious Thomas! Thanks so much for taking the time to share!