We recently made a trip to Rye, NY, to visit my brother, Geoff T, and his family.  Our timing was perfect in that our trip coincided with their backyard garden eggplant harvest.

Atlee T with EggplantGeoff knew that we loved to make Ed’s mom’s caponata and suggested that we use one of their prize eggplants. After our five year old niece, Atlee T, picked the biggest eggplant, we were ready to go.

This isn’t a hard dish to make but it does take time as you want to make sure that the eggplant, onions and celery become very tender. This relish has savory, sweet, and tangy flavors. Make it a few hours ahead of time to ensure the flavors get a chance to develop while chilling in the refrigerator.  While we like to serve this as an hors d’oeuvre it can also be served as an accompaniment to meat or chicken.

It is always fun to make one of Ed’s mom’s wonderful recipes as we we both have so many fond memories of her cooking. It was even more fun this time as we got to introduce one of her recipes to a new generation. We knew Atlee was pleased with our hard work when she went back for a second helping of this caponata.

P.S. I just heard that Atlee asked her mom if they could make this recipe again! She must really like it.

Josephine's Eggplant Caponata



Nicole, Atlee T and Ed making Caponata














Me, Atlee and Ed preparing Josephine’s Eggplant Caponata. Ed and I love how much fun Atlee has in the kitchen. Note that Atlee made Ed the Sous Chef (see apron)!  (Photo by Annie Losey Teillon)

Josephine's Eggplant Caponata
5.0 from 3 reviews
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: Makes about 5 cups
  • 4 medium eggplants, peeled and diced
  • 1​ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 4 onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • ½ cup capers
  • 12 green olives, pitted and cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Serve with: baguette slices
  1. Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Peel and dice the eggplants and fry in a single layer until soft – about 8 to 10 minutes.
  2. Remove cooked eggplant from pan and place in colander to drain oil. Repeat until all of the eggplant is cooked – adding more oil if needed.
  3. Add remaining oil (1/4 cup) to frying pan and cook onions until soft and browned – about 10 minutes.
  4. Add celery and cook until celery is tender, adding a little bit of water (if needed) – about 10 minutes.
  5. Return eggplant to the pan and add capers, olives, pine nuts, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
  6. Simmer about 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  7. Cool before serving.
  8. Serve at room temperature with baguette slices.
* It will keep for a several weeks in the refrigerator.
* Use food processor with a slicing blade or mandolin slicer to get very thin onion slices.
* You can use large green cocktail olives – remove the pimento before slicing.



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2014-09-02T20:09:11+00:00 August 26th, 2014|Categories: Appetizers|Tags: , , , , , , , , |9 Comments


  1. Peggy August 26, 2014 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    What a terrific team effort making this delicious recipe. Ed graciously gave me his mother’s recipe years ago and it is delicious. Time consuming, yes, but totally worth it. The photos are wonderful, Nicole.

  2. Dad August 27, 2014 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Best caponata I have had including some on the south shore of Sicily.


    • Nicole August 28, 2014 at 8:40 am - Reply

      Dad – Many thanks for the ringing endorsement!

  3. Stephanie S August 28, 2014 at 10:31 pm - Reply

    Delicious! Made a small batch this evening.

    • Nicole September 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Stephanie – So glad that you liked it!

  4. annie & atlee September 2, 2014 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    a little 5 year old requested to make it today….we had 3 huge eggplants in our garden so we have caponata to last a lifetime…or maybe a week since its so delish! xx

    • Nicole September 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

      So adore that Atlee likes the Eggplant Caponata enough that she wanted to make more! Just sorry we weren’t there to help!

  5. annie October 15, 2015 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Oh i wish you could have been there when Shep pronounced that “this capooooonada is real good” last evening! We made it yet again (its my favorite thing to eat!) with some of the last eggplants from atlee’s garden and took it to a little BBQ. Thank goodness the recipe makes a ton and keeps well so we were able to eat leftovers for dinner last night…i just wish i had caught Shep it on tape. You would have been proud!

    • Nicole October 15, 2015 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Annie – What a precious story! Ed and I just love that you all love his mother’s recipe – makes us so happy! Too cute that Shep at not yet 3 years old knows what caponata is. And, how wonderful that you are still getting eggplants from Atlee’s garden! Love, love. love!

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