Moroccan-Spiced Caponata

4.89 from 9 votes
2 hours
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Moroccan-Spiced Caponata is a delicious North African twist on traditional caponata and the perfect way to enjoy late summer vegetables!

Photo of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata being served up on crusty bread from white cast iron skillet.

Friends!  I’ve got a tasty twist on traditional caponata you’re really going to love!  First though…

What is caponata?

Caponata is a Sicilian vegetable dish served as an appetizer, light meal or even salad that’s a sweet-sour interpretation of classic French ratatouille.  It’s generally served warm or at room temperature.

It always contains eggplant, quite often celery, fresh herbs and other summer vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers.  It can also include other vegetables added like zucchini, carrots, fennel or potatoes.

The sweet-sour component comes from green olives, raisins, capers and red wine vinegar.

Now, I LOVE capers which are traditional in caponata but I didn’t care for them in this version.  Adding the capers was a little too much going on with the Moroccan spices, olives and the other ingredients.  Not gonna steer you wrong!

Close-up photo of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata in white cast iron skillet.

How to make Moroccan-Spiced Caponata:

  • Start with two beautiful ripe, medium-sized eggplant.

Photo of whole freshly washed eggplant.

  • Cut the eggplant into cubes, place it into a colander and give it a good salting.  Let that drain in the sink for 30-45 minutes or so then pat it dry with paper towels.

Photo of cubed eggplant in white distressed colander with salt.

  • While the eggplant is draining, prep the other fresh ingredients:
    • Chopped fresh tomatoes
    • Chopped celery
    • Chopped onion
    • Red bell pepper cut into large chunks
    • Chopped cilantro

Photo of fresh ingredients for caponata in glass bowls.

  • Get the pantry ingredients ready:
    • Sliced green olives
    • Extra-virgin olive oil
    • Coriander
    • Cumin
    • Paprika (preferably Hungarian paprika which is more pungent and flavorful than sweet paprika)
    • Crushed red pepper flakes
    • Golden raisins
    • Red wine vinegar

Photo of pantry ingredients for caponata in glass bowls.

Then, start cooking!

  • Cook the onions and celery in olive oil until both are nice and melty soft.

Photo of onion and celery being cooked in white cast iron skillet.

  • Blot the eggplant dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture and salt.
  • Add the eggplant to the skillet and cook until it begins to soften, then add the red bell pepper.
  • Cook the red bell pepper until softened, then add the tomatoes, spices and pantry ingredients…

Photo of fresh ingredients for caponata being cooked in white cast iron skillet.

  • Cook until everything is beautifully melty soft and jam-packed with flavor–almost like jam!

Photo of finished caponata in white cast iron skillet.

  • Surprisingly, you won’t see garlic added to caponata very often.  However, feel free to add it!

Close-up photo of finished Moroccan-Spiced Caponata with serving spoon.

  • Toast up or grill some hearty whole-grain crusty bread….

Close-up photo of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata on crusty bread.

  • Serve it right out of the pan at room temperature…

Photo of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata being served up on crusty bread from white cast iron skillet.

  • …Or get all fancy and place it in a serving bowl.

Either way, your guests will love it!

Close-up photo of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata in black serving bowl with spoon.

How long does caponata keep?

The flavor of Moroccan-Spiced Caponata or any caponata improves with a little time so it’s a perfect make-ahead dish.  You can make it ahead 1-2 days and it will keep in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.  After that, the quality will suffer and a food safety issue begins to develop.

If you have any caponata left over, freeze it in small containers.  Then, thaw in the refrigerator or microwave and enjoy it for a quick, healthy lunch on crusty bread!

Uses for caponata:

Uses for caponata are endless!

  • Add it to a sandwich
  • Serve over grilled chicken
  • Serve over fish
  • Serve over a lamb burger
  • Serve over couscous or other pasta
  • Toss it with rice, farro, quinoa or any other grain!

More recipes with eggplant you’ll love!

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Moroccan-Spiced Caponata - Overhead hero shot of caponata being served up on crusty bread

Moroccan-Spiced Caponata

4.89 from 9 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef's Kitchen
Moroccan-Spiced Caponata is a delicious North African twist on traditional caponata and the perfect way to enjoy late summer vegetables!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Additional Time 45 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizers and Snacks
Cuisine Moroccan
Servings 8
Calories 144 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 medium eggplants - cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 2 stalks (ribs) celery - finely chopped
  • 2 red bell peppers - cut into 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 4 large tomatoes - approximately 1 pound, skinned, seeded and chopped --OR-- 1 can (15-ounce) diced canned tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sliced green olives
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Additional salt - to taste if desired
  • Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • Toasted or grilled rustic bread

Instructions
 

  • Place the cubed eggplant in a colander and salt it generously with approximately 2-3 teaspoons. Let it drain in the sink or over a plate or bowl for approximately 45 minutes. Pat it dry with paper towels to remove excess moisture and salt.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5-7 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.
  • Add the celery and continue cooking, stirring frequently until very soft.
  • Add the eggplant to the skillet and cook until it begins to soften, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the red bell pepper. Cook until beginning to soften 3-4 minutes then add the tomatoes.
  • Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and crushed red pepper flakes and give it a stir.
  • Add the vinegar, green olives and raisins.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
  • Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Let cool to room temperature before serving over crusty or grilled bread.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD: Can be made 1-2 days ahead. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
FREEZER-FRIENDLY:  Cool thoroughly and store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 144kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 615mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 1907IU | Vitamin C: 54mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating




10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    OMG! Delicious! I haven’t made homemade Caponata in years and this recipe is perfect! We ate it last night over Farro alongside a Mediterranean marinated Split Chicken Breast! Split the leftovers one container in fridge for tomorrow probably on crostini with a bit of Ricotta Salata as part of a meze meal! The rest in freezer for undetermined use!

    1. Hi, Jim, Thanks so very much and so happy you enjoyed! Love your menu and I’m definitely going to try it with ricotta salata cheese. Thanks again!

  2. 5 stars
    THIS WAS EXCELLENT!

    Definitely not a quick throw-together dish but well worth all the extra time! Not a fan of green olives so I substituted black olives. Also, did not have any golden raisins on-hand but think the usual dark ones worked out well! I would make this again in a heartbeat!

    Thank-you so much for this recipe. I am a sucker for unusual-ingredient-combos. This one is an A+!

    1. Hi, Debbie, Wow! Thanks so very much and so glad you enjoyed!! I’m like you… I like to try new flavors and flavor combos which is why I came up with this. Thanks again so very much!!

  3. A platter best enjoyed for Dinner Time. A meal by itself. Healthy and light and flavorful. Can enjoy it as a topping too. Yum

  4. My mamma used to make caponata all the time but an Italian version. I loved the idea of the spices so I went to the Farmer’s Market and picked up what I needed to make for your version. It makes quite a bit so we not only enjoyed it last evening, we had some leftover for our chicken sandwiches today. Now, we liked the capers but omitted the raisins. I know, it really belongs in there but Hubby is quite stubborn and adamant that he doesn’t like those dried grapes. But that’s okay because I think it was delicious just the same.