Zia Bettina, my father’s sister and the guardian and keeper of our family
cooking recipes, made this classic, savory dish in huge amounts because it was tastier the next day. We enjoyed it
as contorno (side dish) or in a sandwich for our lunch at
When we had a celebration or a party, without fail,
caponatina was served. When
Aunt Bettina cooked it, the whole family was involved in its preparation. I still remember the pleasant
sweet-sour smell that filled the whole house for days.
Serves 6 to
· 4 eggplants, cut into half-inch cubes, leaving skin on, salted and placed in a colander to
· 1 whole celery, cut into pieces about 1/2 inch long, rinsed a few
· 1 cup olive oil
· 2 large onions, diced
· 1/2 lb green olives, pitted and cut in half
· 1/4 lb salted capers, thoroughly rinsed
· 2 tablespoons tomato paste
· 1 cup vinegar
· 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
· Salt and fresh ground black pepper
· Basil leaves for garnish
Boil celery in lightly salted water for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve
In a 5 ½-quart sauté pan, heat
4 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium flame. Add onions and, after 5 minutes, add olives and capers. Cook for 5
minutes. Add tomato paste diluted in about a cup of the reserved liquid and cook for 5 additional minutes; then add
celery. Simmer until celery is tender.
If the mixture is too thick, add some reserved liquid. Add the sugar
diluted to the vinegar and cook a few more minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Pat dry the eggplants with a clean kitchen towel or
Fry the eggplant in hot oil and place on paper towels to drain
Assembling the Caponatina
In a baking dish, layer the mixture and the fried eggplant,
finishing with the eggplant.
Bake for 20 minutes at
This dish tastes better when served at room temperature.