Lighter Caponata

Preparation info

  • Makes about

    2 cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

By roasting the eggplant, instead of dicing and frying it, it’s possible to cut back on much of the olive oil traditionally used to prepare this sweet-and-sour Sicilian specialty. Serve it as a dip or on toasted Italian bread.


  • 1 large or 2 small eggplants, halved lengthwise (about pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup diced (¼ inch) sweet onion
  • ½ cup diced celery, with a few leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can (14½ ounces) Italian-style plum tomatoes, drained, seeded, and chopped; juice reserved (about cup)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pitted brine-cured black olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)


    1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking pan with foil.
    2. Place the eggplant, cut side down, on the baking pan. Add about ¼ cup water to moisten the bottom of the pan. Roast until the eggplant is tender when pierced with a skewer, about 45 minutes, adding small amounts of water as needed to prevent burning during roasting. Cool to room temperature. Peel the eggplant and cut the flesh into ¼-inch dice. You should have about 2 cups.
    3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet, preferably non-stick, over medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is golden and the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the diced eggplant and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant browns slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
    4. Add the tomatoes and 3 or 4 tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice, or as needed to keep the mixture moist. Stir in the parsley, vinegar, olives, capers, sugar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Cool completely before serving.
    5. Just before serving, correct the seasonings with small amounts of vinegar, sugar, and salt to taste. Spoon into a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil, if desired.