Grape Gourmet – Cucina Dello Zio

Cibo, vino e liquori di cucina in tutto il mondo.

Caponatina / Caponata

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#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio

Caponatina is a variant of Caponata, a Sicilian eggplant/olive antipasto.
by James Belardo

This is ‘the recipe’ my grandmother taught me before she passed away in 1992. Her family was from Scilla, a small seaside Calabrian village across the channel from Messina, Sicily. The style of cooking in Scilla can be described as Calabrese with definite Sicilian influences – Pretty much my grandmother’s style of cooking. After all, she learned from her mother, a mix of Calabrese and Siciliani. She also learned Napolitani cooking from her mother-in-law. My wife and I have had the privilege of visiting Scilla a few times.

#Caponata or #Caponatina Eggplant, olives, onions, celery, capers, tomato sauce, basil, balsamic, olive oil and Pignoli (pine nuts)
2 large Sicilian eggplants (or regular eggplants), cut into 3/4-inch cubes*
1-2 cups celery, chopped
1-2 cups red onions, chopped
3/4 cup olives, black sun-dried ‘Calabrian’ Infornate olives (bitter), hand pitted. (pitted Black Kalamata olives can also be used)
3/4 cup green ‘calabrese’ olives (pitted) or 1 jar Manzanilla olives
1/4 cup capers (in brine), drained
1/3 cup Pignoli (pine nuts), roasted (see below) – optional
1 28 oz can plum tomatoes (San Marzano), hand crushed
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (fresh)
1-2 tbsp natural sugar
Salt and pepper – to taste
olive oil
avocado oil (for frying eggplant)

Eggplant Preparation
(Sicilian Eggplant is preferred but the regular type can also used)
Place the cubed eggplant in a large bowl of cold salted-water. This keeps the eggplant from getting brown (oxidation) and helps prevent too much oil from being soaked in during cooking. Rinse and drain prior to frying. Drain and squeeze the water out well before frying to help prevent the oil from splattering too much.

Celery and Onions
Dice the celery and onions. The total volume of the chopped celery and onions should equal the volume of ‘cooked’ eggplant. I usually use 1 large onion and 4-5 stalks celery.

Olives and Capers
Jarred or canned olives are okay, I usually use 1 jar of Manzanillo (stuffed with peppers), 1 jar of pre diced Kalamata (or black) olives and ½ or ¾ cup of sun-dried (bitter) Calabrian black olives. Remove seeds if needed. Rinse with cold water and drain.

Toasted Pine Nuts – optional
The pine puts can be roasted in the oven. Check out how to here, Oven-Toasted Pine Nuts

1. The Eggplant – In a large skillet, bring the avocado oil up to temperature. Cook eggplant until lightly brown, remove. Add more olive oil only when necessary, eggplant will soak it up. Set the eggplant aside in a bowl. Don’t over use the olive oil, eggplant has a tendency to soak up the oil, but will release some as it approaches being done.
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - Pre-fry the #eggplant

2. The Caponatina – In a deep-dish large skillet or large sauce pan, cook the onions and celery in olive oil. Stir constantly and when the onions are just beginning to show some translucence reduce heat to medium.
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - In a large pot fry the onions and celery

3. Now’s the time add the olives and capers followed by the eggplant, mix well and let simmer for about 5-minutes.
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - Toss in the olives #homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - Then the #eggplant

4. Add tomatoes, balsamic vinegar; heat until just bubbling
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - Hand crushed plum tomatoes #homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - #balsamic vinegar

5. then add the chopped basil, sugar, salt and pepper.
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - #basil sugar salt & pepper

6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes mixing fairly often. Let cool until room temperature, stirring occasionally while adding the optional pine nuts.
#homemade #caponata #caponatina #CucinaDelloZio - add the toasted pine nuts (pignoli)

Best served cold on Italian bread (panini) as a sandwich.
Store in refrigerator.

Please share, my grandmother would love it!

The Grape Gourmet
• health • wellness • culture • flavor •

a Mo’zArt Production

Written by Zio James

October 17, 2012 at 9:54 PM

4 Responses

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  1. […] Caponatina is a family recipe passed to me by my Grandmother (Nonna) before she passed away in ’92. You see, the family on my Grandmother’s side are from Scilla, Reggio Calabria, Italy. Scilla is a Calabrian village on the ‘big-toe’ of Italy across from Sicilian city of Messina.  When visiting Scilla in 2008 I discovered how much my Grandmother’s cooking was influenced by Sicilia (with a lil’Calabrese thrown in), this gave me a much better understanding on how my Grandmother cooked. . She also blended the cooking style of Naples, a tribute to my Grandfather’s family had roots. […]

    • I have made this recipe and it is delicious! Large quantity and ideal for sharing.


      November 14, 2012 at 7:34 PM

  2. Dear cousin James (a/k/a my little brother),

    What a great foodie website and a wonderful tribite to our grandmother Marianna (Marion) Bellantonio-Crescenzo whom we both learned how to cook from since we lived in the same double family style house growing up in Brooklyn with three kitchens. Every respectable italian immigrant had a third kitchen put in their basements.

    I would love to reference your website on mine under my recipe section so all can get a taste of our combined sharing of our cooking knowlege

    Ann Marie Somer

    December 28, 2012 at 12:28 PM

  3. Dear cousin James
    This is such a great tribute to our grandmother, our family and our culture.
    Thank you for putting together such a wonderful site honoring our heritage.
    Love cousin Ann Marie
    Please visit my website for more recipies and help for living and coping with cancer

    Ann Marie Somer

    August 21, 2013 at 6:36 AM

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