The Sicilian Eggplant Caponata is one of the signature dishes from Sicily. There are several theories about the origin of Caponata, each of them linked to one of the countries that have invaded the island throughout the years. As a result, there are now 37 official variations of the Caponata recipe!
The first written record of Caponata dates back 1709, where the Etimologicum Siculum describes a dish of "Acetarium et variis rebus minutium conficis", which can be translated as "salad and a variety of minced things". In its first version, Caponata was based on Mahi Mahi (which was called Capone in the sicilian dialect), and was exclusive to the upper classes. Over time, the fish has been replaced by fried eggplants, which made it accessible to everyone.
Other theories suggest that Caponata comes from the Spanish "capirotada", the Greek "capto", or the latin "caponium", the latter one referring to the traditional fisherman taverns.
All of the caponata recipes share a few ingredients, the eggplants, celery, green olives, tomatoes (although this is a more modern addition), onions, capers, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and sugar, which are prepared following some specific guidelines.
The Palermitan version of Caponata is probably the most famous one, and in addition to the ingredients above it is enriched with pine nuts, raisin, and roasted almonds. The Catanese version is distinguished by the addition of yellow and red capsicums, and sometimes diced potatoes.
Nowadays, caponata is served as an entree' with toasted bread or as a side dish. Its most common combinations are with swordfish and tuna steaks. One of the great features of Caponata is that it is equally tasty whether hot or cold, and so it is not unusual to bring it as a lunch at the beach or for a pic-nic.
Here at Original Sicily, we couldn't avoid having caponata in our range! And so we sourced the best caponata we could find, la Caponata di Nonna Maria, and organic and gluten free treat!
If you want to prepare an exotic and simple recipe for your friends, look up for our Cous Cous and Caponata recipe on the website! And if you want to try our caponata, join us this weekend at La Cigale Market for a taste!