This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Caponata is a Sicilian vegetable medley that usually is served as a cold hors d’oeuvre. It is similar to the French ratatouille, but more pungent, because of the olive and capers. I stray a bit from the classical treatment, adding carrots for sweetness and forgoing the usual anchovies and celery. Salt and pepper wake up the vegetable flavors, so season the individual elements as you cook them, and then taste and reseason at the very end.


Make-ahead notes:

• The cut vegetables can be refrigerated up to 1 day.

• The finished Caponata can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

Makes5 cups, or 6 to 8 servings

Cooking Methodbaking, sauteeing


Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Courseappetizer, side dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, healthy, high fiber, kosher, lactose-free, low carb, low cholesterol, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian


Taste and Texturesavory, tangy

Type of Dishvegetable


  • 7 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 1 small or medium red onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 medium-size tomatoes, quartered, squeezed, and seeded and cut into small dice
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 8 leaves basil, cut in chiffonade
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
  • ½ cup Vegetable Stock or low-salt canned vegetable broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
  • 1 small red or orange bell pepper, cut into small dice
  • ½ large eggplant, cut into small dice (about 3 cups)
  • 1 medium zucchini, outside only cut into small dice
  • 1 medium yellow squash, outside only, cut into small dice
  • 15 cured black olives (such as nicoise), pitted and cut into small dice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed capers
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • Double-cut lamb chops and polenta
  • In place of ratatouille, with any dish
  • Seared and roasted chicken breasts


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

  2. In a large ovenproof saucepan or casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté the garlic, onion, and red onion until the onions are transparent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, thyme, and stock and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and continue simmering.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil and sauté the carrots and bell pepper until just tender, 3 minutes. Season them with salt and pepper and add to the simmering tomato mixture.

  4. Add another 2 tablespoons of the oil, heat until smoking, and sauté the eggplant until just tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the simmering tomato mixture.

  5. In the same skillet you used for the eggplant, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat until shimmering. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add to the simmering tomato mixture. Add the olives and capers and mix well. Cover and bake 1 hour. Add the vinegar, taste, and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.


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