Agrodolce Caponata

Andrew Zimmern's agrodolce (sweet-and-sour) caponata cleverly combines silky eggplant with blanched celery for appealing crunch. Bright and briny olives and capers help cut the richness of fatty meats, like lamb.


Slideshow: Eggplant Recipes


  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes about 6 cups

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  • 1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 celery ribs, cut into 1-by-1/4-inch matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 cup pitted green olives, thinly sliced
  • One 3-ounce bottle brined capers—drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

How to make this recipe

  1. In a colander set in a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1 tablespoon of salt. Let drain for 45 minutes, tossing occasionally. Spread the eggplant on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and blot dry.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and fill a medium bowl with ice water. Add the celery to the pot and blanch for 30 seconds, then drain and plunge immediately into the ice water. Let chill for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and basil and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook until slightly reduced, about 10 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and season with salt.
  4. In a large skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the eggplant and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in it. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, until translucent, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly caramelized, about 13 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, blanched celery, olives, capers, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring, until the caponata is thick, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead

The caponata can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature or warm slightly before serving.

Contributed By Photo © Stephanie Meyer Published April 2012

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