Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts

Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts

Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts

Flexible recipes are a busy cook’s dream.  There is nothing better than a dip that can morph into a sauce, or a salad that becomes your breakfast smoothie. Caponata, a recent discovery for me,  exemplifies that flexibility. The various recipes that I have tried, have found their way onto cheese platters, and antipasto plates. They have been wonderous sides for grilled meats and recently a rich topping for quesadillas. This particular recipe is complex, bold, and compliments so many other dishes. Next time, I want to make it into a pasta sauce with a few zaps in my Cuisinart.  Topped with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, this would make a memorable meal, I am sure.

I am bringing a huge bowl of my Caponata and my favourite rustic fig and anise bread over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday tomorrow. Come and join us at the best virtual blog party on the web!

While I have tried a couple of excellent recipes for Caponata, this recipe is from Bon Appétit‘s June 2015 issue.  The dried cranberries and fennel added a sweet spiciness that I just couldn’t resist sharing with you.

Served with rustic breads, this makes a hearty meal.

Served with rustic breads, this makes a hearty meal.

Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts


2 globe eggplants (about 2 pounds), cut into ¾ inch pieces

2 tablespoons Kosher salt, plus more

1 small fennel bulb, cut into ¾ inch pieces

4 cups vegetable oil (I used only about 1 cup)

¼ cup pine nuts

¼ cup olive oil

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

2 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

¼ teaspoon paprika

1 cup crushed tomatoes

½ cup red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries

country-style bread, sliced


Toss the eggplant cubes with 2 tablespoons salt. Place in a colander and set over a bowl. Chill for 3-10 hours.

Place eggplant in a kitchen towel and squeeze out the excess liquid. Combine the eggplant, fennel and vegetable oil in a large, heavy pot. Set over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplants are golden brown and the fennel is soft, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook onions, chiles, and garlic, stirring occasionally until tender, but not browned, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, vinegar, and sugar and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Add the cranberries, nuts, and eggplant mixture. Toss until heated through and glazed. Season with salt.

Let cool. Serve with the bread, crackers, cold meats or cheeses.

Enjoy the flexibility of this lovely Italian dish.

Enjoy the flexibility of this lovely Italian dish.


41 Responses to “Caponata with Fennel and Pine Nuts”

  1. chef mimi

    Flexible recipes are perfect to me whether you’re a busy person or not. I love love playing with recipes – changing them up – making them Indian or Southwestern, or just changing ingredients for the sheer fun of it. A lot of people, in my experience with cooking classes, have no idea how to do this because they’re only capable of following a recipe to a tee. Great recipe!!!

    • chefjulianna

      Thanks Chef! I agree; that sense of playing with our food is such a joy and the root of creativity ! Glad you like this recipe! 😀

  2. milkandbun

    Such an interesting name, and I thought it gonna be something complicated, and I was glad to discover such easy and flexible recipe! Thank for sharing, Julianna!
    Enjoy weekend!

    • chefjulianna

      Yes, there is nothing like simple recipes with nice, fresh ingredients! Some of my favourite dishes are so simple! 🙂

  3. tentimestea

    I always adore finding new eggplant recipes, and this caponata sounds divine. This recipe has so many delicious ingredients…I really like a bit of sweetness in savoury things and I love the flavour of toasted pine nuts. What a perfect dish to bring…and happy Fiesta Friday!

    • chefjulianna

      Yes, this is perfect party food! I have made caponata before for other parties and it always goes over really well! 🙂

  4. Jhuls

    Quick and easy are the best friends of busy people. This dish look fab, Chef Julianna. You really make the best meal every single time. I hope you have a lovely weekend. Happy FF. 🙂 xx

  5. Giramuk's Kitchen

    I love caponata!! never tried it with fennel and cranberries… that sounds so delicious!! Definitely going to give that a go next time! 🙂

    • chefjulianna

      Thanks Dini! I had never tried it with fennel and cranberries before either, but it really works and is super Delish!

  6. Lili

    What a lovely recipe Chef Julianna! Love the ingredients and the caponata with its cranberries and fennel is beckoning to me! 🙂

  7. Loretta

    What amazingly fresh ingredients in this caponata. Do you ever use the greens of the fennel? Love the licorice taste it imparts.

    • chefjulianna

      I have used the green part of the fennel before, but I didn’t put any in this dish. I love that liquorice flavour too. I like it with oven roasted veggies… 🙂

  8. Margherita

    Caponata it means summer for me. This is one of the most famous Sicilian recipe, and as you said it is memorable. Your photo is very rappresentative of its quality!

  9. Pang @circahappy

    I love the easy recipe, but the easy recipe with tasty result is wonderful 🙂
    Love love it, Julianna. Thank you so much for sharing 🙂

  10. Anna @ shenANNAgans

    Now this a stand out recipe! I heart it…. BIG TIME! 🙂
    Love that it isnt too complicated too.

    Q. Is Caponata one of those dishes that ‘anything’ goes?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: