The Recipe everyone needs!

Caponata the go to side dish 

When you desire one of those dishes that go with fish, meat and vegetables, a universal staple dish it has a few perquisites.

Firstly it needs to be simple to make- tick

It needs to be adaptable- tick

It needs to hit that sweet, sour, Unami mmm flavour- tick

It needs to be liked by everyone-tick

This is it- this is a all of the above and more. It is just left to simmer away on the hob filling the house with its delicate aroma and as an extra bonus it uses up just turning/going off vegetables.

As with all my recipes I start with something traditional – here its Caponata, and add my own twists – the true joys of cooking.

This is a much enamoured dish in our house , its just one of those that is yummy with anything even on it sown, you can have it hot or cold,

We have it with a good old family english breakfast mostly but have had it with big fat ribeye steaks and dauphinoise potatoes,  roast lemon chicken with fresh green salad , fresh homemade pasta and this add the sauce with torn mozzarella and fresh basil,  hake fish cooked en papiotte served with carrot salad  and its use as a base for a many other dishes think – a punchy ratatouille, or a braised fennel celery bake, sandwich filling like a meatball sub, a  burger relish, the list goes on its universal use is fabulous and should be a go to recipe and it stores well in the fridge ( if you have any left).

I thought I had posted about Caponata before but it’s seems I haven’t ( affectionately named “craponata” by my hilarious children (?) who love it so much they eat it out joyously out of the jar without any accompaniment, even though they have soured it with an  un-beguiling nickname )

Wikipedia ( the sometimes misjudged oracle States) What Is  Caponata (Sicilian: capunata) is a Sicilian eggplant (aubergine) dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad made from chopped fried eggplant and celery seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers in a sweet and sour sauce

I first had this in a Carluccio’s restaurant and absolutely adored it , bought some from their delicatessen to take home and now just make my own. ( check out Carluccio’s caponata recipe here) 

The traditional recipe declares you fry off the vegetables I don’t. My recipe is very simple, and failsafe, as its a one pot plonk it in and allow its you to omit any vegetables you don’t have.

Caponata- a kitchen sauce staple. Adaptable and delicious.
Caponata- a kitchen sauce staple. Adaptable and delicious.


It may look like a lot of ingredients but it’s super fast as you put it all in one pan 

  • Tomatoes fresh but very ripe ( even overripe)  about 10 – I don’t even chop them
  • 2 tins of great quality tomatoes
  • 1 red onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves depending on how garlicky you like things
  • 1 red chilli chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small aubergines
  • 3/4 stalks and leaves of celery
  • Fennel salt (I make my own ground fennel seeds, whole fennel seeds salt allow to infuse , store in a sealed jar use whenever required) 1 teaspoon
  • Pepper ground teaspoon
  • Olive oil about 2 tbsps
  • Glass of good red wine
  • Ghee/ coconut butter or butter about 2 tbsps
  • 2-3 tablespoons Red wine vinegar ( taste check you may add a little more if you like the sour bite)
  • 4 tablespoons  of sugar ( any type)

Not traditional at all but You can also any off/ turning vegetables don’t thow away –  finely chop and use I waste nothing. In the past Ive put carrots , mushrooms, fennel, celeriac, anything that was in the vegetable rack going off !



  1. Put all ingredients into a large saucepan bring to the boil
  2. Simmer for 2-3 hours mush up the whole tomatoes through the cooking
  3. taste throughout if you need more sweet ad a little more sugar, if yu want more tang add a splash of red wine vinegar and season
  4. Allow to cool
  5. Serve cold or warm with any meal
  6. Store in sterilised jars in the fridge 

Personalise it- Remember a recipe is a guide so always make it your own even if thats just the way you serve it!

  • Add or take out chilli, add more
  • I have made it with juts the tomatoes before and its still delicious
  • Ive also used normal malt vinegar once when away at my sister in laws it the sharpness you need of the vinegar so any will work – balsamic will add a sweetness and not the bite you need
  • Add red wine reduction for a deeper flavour
  • Add mushroom ketchup for a meatier depth of flavour without the meat
  • Big knob of butter at the end will enrich the whole dish
  • Store and put over a little flavoured olive oil and store in your fridge



Happy cooking

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