Caponata is a typical Sicilian dish, where a simple local ingredient,  in this case the aubergine, is taken as the basis of the dish, and is then embellished and enriched until the end result is an opulent and almost baroque achievement.


1 Aubergine (about 300g), cut into 2cm dice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
120g ripe tomatoes, diced ½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
3 tbsp (50g) green olives, stoned and quartered (1tbsp finely chopped)
1 tbsp honey 150ml passata or tinned chopped tomatoes
30ml (2tbsp) red wine vinegar
1 tbsp grated dark chocolate
1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
1 stalk of mint – leaves only – torn

Cooking Instructions: 

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the aubergine chunks and gently fry until golden brown and tender (don’t over crowd the pan; you may have to cook them in batches).
  2. Next add the onion, celery and salt, cook gently for 10 minutes or until the celery has softened and beginning to colour.
  3. Now add the diced tomatoes, chilli, fennel and cumin seeds and fry for another couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the, olives, honey, passata, vinegar and chocolate and bring to the boil. Check the seasoning; adjust according to your palate.  Turn the heat right down, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes checking towards the end of cooking and taking the pan off the heat if it seems to be drying out.
  5. Take off the heat, add the toasted pine nuts and garnish with a few mints torn mint leaves at the point of serving.

Cooks Tip 1: This dish can be served hot or cooled at room temperature the roughly torn mint, just before serving. Serve with Crostini, Cous Cous, Pilaf rice or on toast.





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