Eggplant Caponata is a sweet and tangy eggplant and tomato relish. This Italian eggplant recipe is loaded with texture and flavor. Serve eggplant relish on crusty bread or as a side with chicken and fish.
What is Caponata?
My Italian relatives call this Caponata, pronounced ka·puh·naa·tuh, a chopped eggplant salad seasoned with sugar and vinegar. I varied from the traditional recipe a bit, so I also call my version an eggplant relish.
Caponata is one of Sicily's most common dishes and each family seems to have their own twist on this classic Mediterranean dish.
Eggplant Caponata vs. Ratatouille
Mediterranean cooking has no shortage of eggplant-based recipes. France's ratatouille and Italy's caponata are somewhat similar dishes. Caponata often has a sweet component like raisins and is often served as a salad, side or relish at room temperature. Eggplant is still the star of Ratatouille, but the other vegetables can differ depending on what's available, and ratatouille is often served warm as an appetizer or side dish.
Ingredients Needed for Eggplant Caponata
- Olive Oil – The flavor of the oil will really shine through in this recipe, so l use good quality oil.
- Pearl Onions – I love pearl onions, so I used them instead of chopped onions. You can buy them in the frozen veggie section of your grocery store and not have to worry about teary eyes.
- Garlic – I'm not sure it's possible to make Italian recipes without using garlic. It adds an earthy, warm flavor.
- Eggplant – Look for a medium eggplant with no bruises or soft spots.
- Tomatoes – Canned tomatoes can be incredibly flavorful and are a great shortcut for this recipe.
- Raisins – Regular raisins are great, but golden raisins are a tasty substitute.
- Vinegar – I used both red wine vinegar and a bit of balsamic. These give the recipe a slight tartness and some sweetness without having to add extra sugar.
- Salt and Pepper
- Parsley – Fresh parsley adds a nice green contrast to the finished dish.
Why Use Canned Tomatoes?
If you've read my blog even a few times, you probably know I love tomatoes. While I have proclaimed my love for juicy Jersey tomatoes, I have a little secret to reveal. Since NJ is a climate that only produces tomatoes for a few select summer months, I use lots of canned tomatoes for much of the year. I do freeze some of my Jersey ones, but they can only last me for so long. And the truth is, canned tomatoes are great in recipes, especially this eggplant caponata.
One of the companies I rely on for my tomatoes is Red Gold. This Midwestern company is out of Indiana, and they also make the brands Red Pack, Tuttorosso, and Sacramento. Years ago, I visited their corporate office and plant facility and went on a weekend dream foodie trip. Since then, I frequently use their brands of tomatoes in many of my favorite Italian eggplant recipes and other favorites.
Canned tomatoes are perfect for making this sweet and savory tomato and eggplant relish.
More Italian Eggplant Recipes
- Baked Eggplant Parmesan Rounds
- Grilled Eggplant Tomato Stacks from Souffle Bombay
- Low Carb Eggplant Parmesan Casserole
This versatile eggplant caponata can be served on crackers, any type of bread or pitas. It is also very good on top of chicken, fish or pasta, but I preferred to eat it right from the pan with a spoon. Yes, it is that good!
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Tomato and Eggplant Relish
- 3 TBS olive oil
- 1 cup peeled pearl onions
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1 medium sized eggplant chopped
- 1 14 oz can Red Pack diced tomatoes (with basil, garlic and oregano)
- ⅓ cup raisins
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add garlic and eggplant. Saute until eggplant is soft and brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add diced tomatoes with juice, raisins, wine and vinegar. Cover and simmer on low or until eggplant and onion are very tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
- Season caponata to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh parsley.
- Transfer relish to serving bowl. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
First Published December 2011 ; Updated August 2021