Moroccan-Spiced Caponata is a delicious North African twist on traditional caponata and the perfect way to enjoy late summer vegetables!
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!
How to make Moroccan-Spiced Caponata:
- Start with two beautiful ripe, medium-sized 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.
- 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
- Get the pantry ingredients ready:
- Sliced green olives
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Paprika (preferably Hungarian paprika which is more pungent and flavorful than sweet paprika)
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Golden raisins
- Red wine vinegar
Then, start cooking!
- Cook the onions and celery in olive oil until both are nice and melty soft.
- 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...
- Cook until everything is beautifully melty soft and jam-packed with flavor--almost like jam!
- Surprisingly, you won't see garlic added to caponata very often. However, feel free to add it!
- Toast up or grill some hearty whole-grain crusty bread....
- Serve it right out of the pan at room temperature...
- ...Or get all fancy and place it in a serving bowl.
Either way, your guests will love it!
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!
- Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
- Healthier Turkish Eggplant Casserole - Imam Bayildi
- Italian Summer Vegetable Casserole
- Provencal Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart
- Loaded Roasted Eggplant Dip (Baba Ganoush)
- 2 medium eggplants - cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch pieces
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion - chopped
- 2 stalks (ribs) celery - finely chopped
- 2 red bell peppers - cut into ½-inch to ¾-inch pieces
- 4 large tomatoes - approximately 1 pound, skinned, seeded and chopped --OR-- 1 can (15-ounce) diced canned tomatoes, undrained
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon Hungarian paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup sliced green olives
- ¼ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Additional salt - to taste if desired
- Freshly ground black pepper - to taste
- Toasted or grilled rustic bread
- 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.
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.
The flavors worked really well on the dish, and it was scrumptious. I love how it's also very healthy.
Hi, Marin, Thanks so very much and happy you love this recipe!
Debbie in Texas says
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+!
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!!
A platter best enjoyed for Dinner Time. A meal by itself. Healthy and light and flavorful. Can enjoy it as a topping too. Yum
Marisa Franca Stewart says
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.
Hi, Marisa, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! Glad you made it your own with the minor changes.