italian for beginners August 20, 2007


First it was the copy of a cookbook I was sent that was all about Italy – food and otherwise. Then, it was the stack of Italian cookbooks on the shelf at the boy’s house that I got lured into. After that, the theme of gnocchi for Hay Hay It’s Donna Day. The next movie in my Netflix list was Italian for Beginners (which I still haven’t watched). When I got the latest Food and Wine magazine in the mail and saw the Italian themed cover, I threw my hands up. I get the point – we’re having an Italian food moment. It’s everywhere.

Caponata is one of my favorite Italian dishes. While I have heard of people serving it warm as a side dish, I prefer the cold "antipasti" version. Making this gave me an excellent excuse to crack open Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver. I really love this cookbook for all sorts of reasons – Jamie’s loose writing style, the beautiful first hand experience photos, and the rustic feel of the book. If you haven’t checked it out yet, do so.

I used Jamie’s recipe as a springboard for my caponata. While he likes his a little firmer, I appreciate digging into the stewed, comforting texture of it when it’s been cooked a bit more. The seeds in the eggplant don’t bother me so much since it sort of falls in line with the stewed texture – to each their own.  I also like mine after it sits for a day or two and the flavors really merge and mingle. Enjoy this on some toasted bread, with slices of prosciutto & a glass of wine, or as accompaniment to roasted meats.


Caponata – Serves 4 – recipe originally published in Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver and copied from this site

  • olive oil

  • 2 nice large purple eggplants, cut into large chunks

  • 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

  • a small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and stems finely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons salted capers, rinsed, soaked,and drained

  • a handful of green olives, pits removed

  • 2—3 tablespoons best-quality herb vinegar

  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • optional: 2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
yourself a large pan, pour in a couple of glugs of olive oil, and place
on the heat. Add your eggplant chunks and oregano, season with a little
salt, and toss around so the eggplant is evenly coated by the oil. Cook
on a high heat for around 4 or 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake every
now and then. (Depending on the size of your pan you may need to cook
the eggplant in batches.)
the eggplants are nice and golden on each side, add the onion, garlic,
and parsley stems and continue cooking for another couple of minutes.
Feel free to add a little more oil to the pan if you feel it’s getting
too dry.
in the drained capers and the olives and drizzle over the herb vinegar.
When all the vinegar has evaporated, add the tomatoes and simmer for
around 15 minutes or until tender.
before serving and season if you need to with salt, pepper, and a
little more vinegar. Drizzle with some good olive oil and serve
sprinkled with the chopped parsley leaves and the almonds if you like.


Grant Aug 20, 2007 07:08 pm

This seems like it would be good with a poached egg as well. Or maybe spooned over a firm fish, like swordfish. Looks great.

Bri Aug 21, 2007 10:08 am

This looks like a great dish. You just can’t go wrong with ripe tomatoes, eggplant, aromatics and good olive oil. I’ll have to put this on my to do list. BTW, the right margin of your instructions section cuts off the last couple letters.

c Aug 21, 2007 11:08 am

I JUST bought some eggplant at the roadside stand..had no clue what I was going to do with them. Might throw in some ‘baby bella’ mushrooms,…not too much, don’t want to overpower the eggplant…

tami Aug 21, 2007 11:08 am

I think caponata as an accompaniment to swordfish would be awesome! what a good suggestion!
– t*

tami Aug 21, 2007 11:08 am

Thanks for letting me know – I was too busy fretting about how much Typepad was sucking and wouldn’t let me post this entry period to pay attention to the margins :)
I think its fixed! Thanks for stopping by.
– t*

tami Aug 21, 2007 11:08 am

do let me know if you try it out and what you think of it :)
– t*

Meri si Aug 22, 2007 12:08 pm

Like you, I like to softer texture better in a caponata. I make mine with black oil-cured olives, but no herbs, to let the flavour of the vegetables shine, adding just a drizzle of balsamic vinegar when the dish is almost done.
You mention “seeds in the eggplant”, did you mean to write “tomatoes”?

tami Aug 22, 2007 12:08 pm

Meri si-
Both, really. Some recipes say to seed the eggplant…some dont. I dont mind seeds of either…within reason…especially since I do let mine cook down a bit more than say Jamie’s recipe would.

GadgetGeek2 Aug 23, 2007 10:08 am

Good dish for this HotLanta August. Thanks again always for bringing these super recipes and pictures. You da best…

c Aug 23, 2007 06:08 pm

This was lovely, right out of the pan…but the next day? The layers of flavor were enveloping and cool, although ‘stewed’. This will be a late summer staple

Chris Aug 25, 2007 06:08 pm

I love caponata! Yours looks delicious!

Nancy Jan 3, 2008 06:01 pm

My son and I have enjoyed quite a few recipes from Jamie Oliver’s Italian cookery book. We especially enjoyed the gelato, pizza and bruschette recipes.Jamies enthusiasm is contagious and the photography is inspiring.