Moroccan-Spiced Caponata

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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!

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
Coriander
Cumin
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!