Recipe: Caponata

This dish is seriously good - IMO it's Italys answer to sweet and sour. Our home-chef blogger Gabby plated it up with the rest of the goodies from our 2023 xmas feast and it was delicious. But she also sent me home with a doggy bag including this caponata which I woofed down at home the next day on some delicious crusty organic sourdough bread from Irewarra Bakery - a bruschetta of sorts.

The other recipes featured this xmas are the Potato Salad, Smoked Trout Dip, Aunty Ida's Pavlova and Torta Caprese. Whip them all up and you'll have yourself a serious feast :-)

We also have Last Minute Xmas Cake and Green Salad from Xmas in years gone by.

"Caponata is Sicily’s answer to the French ratatouille. Summer’s bounty - eggplant, capsicums and zucchini are gently fried with onions and garlic, dressed in honey and Balsamic vinegar (that’s the sweet and sour, or ‘agrodolce’ element), and finished off with toasted pine nuts and currants, which are a nod to Sicily’s Arabic roots.  Best served at room temperature, as a delicious vegetarian and gluten-free dish on a buffet table, or as a stunning side for barbecued, grilled or roasted lamb, chicken or seafood. Shake it up on Boxing Day and offer it alongside the leftover ham and turkey. 

- Gabby xx"



Serves: 6-8 people as a side dish, generously serves 4-6 as a ‘main’.

Preparation and cooking time: allow 1 hour and 15 mins (includes all of the chopping and time for Caponata to cook slowly, and bring out all of the flavours.)



  • Extra virgin olive oil, 3-4 tablespoons (+ more if needed)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 celery stalks ,finely chopped
  • 1 fennel, fresh, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried fennel
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 fresh red chilli, chopped (or a teaspoon or 2 of dried chilli flakes)
  • 2 red capsicum, chopped and deseeded
  • 2 eggplants , chopped into 2 cm dice
  • 3-4 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes (optional*)
  • 1 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar (or Red Wine vinegar, but use only  ½ tbspn)
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (or ½ tablespoon brown sugar)
  • Salt, pepper
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 3- 4 tablespoons pitted olives (we used Mt Zero black pitted olives)
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 2-3 handfuls fresh herbs, washed and chopped (we used organic parsley and mint. Basil is lovely too.)
  • 100 g toasted pine nuts or raw almonds (‘toast’ in the oven on a tray or in a dry frypan)


  1. Get yourself a large pan – with a lid, if possible - that will fit all of the ingredients. Pour a good few lugs of olive oil in and place over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, celery, fresh fennel and the dried fennel, thyme and chilli. Cook for about 5 mins, then add the capsicum. Cook gently until all vegetables are soft but not browning. Putting a lid on – or a sheet of foil – will speed this up a bit. Don’t rush this step – it really develops all of the sweet, rich flavours that make such a difference to the end dish. 
  2. You can either add the eggplant straight in here, and cook for another 10 mins, or fry it separately and add. It will get a bit of an extra crunchy, caramel finish if you do it separately. Up to you. Either way will taste lovely. 
  3. Zucchini – same as for eggplant. We cooked the zucchini separately for the photo shoot.
  4. Now add the tomatoes, if you’re using them here, plus the balsamic vinegar, honey/ maple, and a bit more oil or water, if it’s getting dry. Sprinkle in the currants and mix through. Turn it up to drive off the vinegar off, then lower heat to low simmer, lid on for another 10-15 mins…At this stage you could transfer the lot to the oven, lid on to finish. 

Extra notes: You can add the cherry tomatoes in with the zucchini, or alternatively, place them on an oven tray lined with baking paper, and sprinkle with olive oil, a few crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Bake til tomatoes have shrunken and cooked through. You can serve these as a side dish – as we did for our photo shoot – with fresh crunchy bread. 

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