Caponata, a.k.a. Incredible Sicilian Eggplant Stew

I checked Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy cookbook out of the library and discovered this fantastic recipe.

The kids liked cutting the vegetables into big chunks (which is exactly what this recipe needs), and we all liked eating it. We’ll be making more soon – even if you don’t like eggplant, you’ll like this. They did!


  • olive oil

  • 2 nice large purple eggplants cut into large chunks

  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano or 3 teaspoons if you’re using fresh

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

  • a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked, and drained (we actually skipped these and added extra olives, but next time we might stick ’em in)

  • a handful of green olives, pits removed

  • 2-3 Tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar (we used balsamic with rosemary and oregano steeped in it)

  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted

In a large pot pour in “a couple glugs” (Oliver’s exact words – works out to around a third of a cup, maybe?) of olive oil, and place on the heat. Add the eggplant chunks – larger than you think you’ll want – and oregano. Season with a little salt, and toss around so the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil. (Depending on the size of your pan you may have to cook the eggplant in stages.)

Cook on high heat forĀ  around 4 or 5 minutes, shaking the pot every now and then. When the eggplants are browned and golden on each side, add the onions, garlic, and parsley stems and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Add more oil if needed. Throw in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle with the herb vinegar. When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for around 15 minutes or until tender.

Taste before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and, if you like, the almonds.

The book doesn’t say to, but we served it over pasta. It would go even better with crusty Italian bread.