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Eggplant caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish. I use an authentic Sicilian approach by adding unsweetened chocolate and cinnamon. Caponata can be made up to 2 days ahead before serving and can be stored in the refrigerator. Garnish just before serving to keep the basil fresh.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8Servings


  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil (be sure to use a good fruity oil)
  • 2 pounds Chinese or Japanese eggplant, cut into 1-inch bias slices
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced thinly
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 ounces green olives, pitted and roughly chopped (I use an Israeli product)
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated unsweetened chocolate (I use Callebaut chocolate grated on a microplane)


.1. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and fry, tossing occasionally, until browned on both sides, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a sheet pan lined with paper towels.

2. Add onions and celery, and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, 10 minutes. 

3. Reduce heat to medium, and add tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the paste is caramelized and clings to the vegetables.

4. Add crushed tomatoes and cinnamon and continue cooking for 10 minutes. 

5. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, sugar, and chocolate, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.

6. Add eggplant back to pan and stir to combine. Cook mixture for about 5 minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Serve the caponata at room temperature with chicken or fish or dolloped on grilled bread.

8.Garnish with lots of fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and a sprinkle of cocoa nibs for cocoa flavor and unexpected crunch.