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What is Sicilian Caponata?
Caponata goes into the same category as my favorite Mediterranean appetizers: ratatouille and bohémienne, and like both of them, it is made out of eggplants and tomatoes. All the summer flavors in the best Italian antipasto!
Traditionally caponata, as many Mediterranean dishes, are flavored with sautéed onions and garlic. But I substituted minced fresh garlic with my favorite Premium Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base.
Cooking with Better Than Bouillon
If you follow this blog, you may know I love Better Than Bouillon. They are concentrated pastes that can be used to infuse flavor into your meals. I’ve been using their Beef Base forever to make my fake ragú, and I’ve developed recipes, like my pumpkin risotto with goat cheese, for them too, using their premium Vegetable Base.
So when they invited me to try their vegetarian and certified vegan bases, I said yes and selected their Premium Roasted Garlic Base. Great choice! Now I know this will be a staple in my kitchen. Add a teaspoon to any recipe involving garlic and you’ll take it to the next level. I guarantee you. And I cannot wait for the fall season to make a garlic soup with this…
Besides their Roasted Garlic Base, Better Than Bouillon vegetarian and certified vegan bases include Seasoned Vegetable Base, Organic Seasoned Vegetable Base, Vegetarian No Beef Base, and Vegetarian No Chicken Base.
Caponata: The Perfect Antipasto
Now, back to my caponata. Its taste is definitely less delicate than the one of the ratatouille. Caponata brings the perfect combination of strong and well-defined flavors thanks to the addition of black and green olives, non-pareil capers, oregano, and a touch of balsamic vinegar. For all of that, it’s the perfect antipasto that Italians enjoy before a good pasta dish.
How to make Caponata alla Siciliana
By far, caponata is the dish most people associate with the rustic flavorful Sicilian cuisine. It can be eaten as an appetizer, side dish, main course, as a snack with a piece of rustic bread, or with pasta, either as a cold pasta salad or as a topping for a warm bowl of noodles. Serve it with fish and it’s heavenly delicious!
Because I used the Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base, I didn’t add any salt, and trust me: it’s not needed. At all. A good thing to do is to peel the tomatoes: by doing this you’ll enjoy a better texture and will avoid finding pieces of tomato peals in your antipasto. As I always say: whenever a recipe calls for peeled tomatoes, just peel them off. It’s worth every second.
To make this recipe you will need some utensils and ingredients that you can easily find online without leaving your house, including:
- Wooden cutting board
- Deep pan
- Olive Oil
- Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base
- Dry Oregano
- Manzanilla olives stuffed with red pepper
- Pitted Black olives
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup red onion chopped
- 1 cup celery stalks chopped
- 4 cups eggplant cut into ½ inch cubes
- 4 cups tomatoes peeled, seeded and diced
- 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Roasted Garlic Base
- ½ cup manzanilla olives stuffed with red peppers sliced
- ½ cup black olives pitted and sliced
- ¼ cup non-pareil capers
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 sprig of parsley for garnish
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium to high heat.
- Add the onion and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add the eggplant and cook until soft, 5 more minutes.
- Add the garlic paste, tomatoes, olives, capers, oregano, balsamic vinegar and sugar, and stir.
- Reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Season with black pepper to taste.
- Garnish with fresh parsley.