capepperonata calda?

Another veggie dish was needed to round out yet another traditional thanksgiving dinner. Turkey breast, our first bird compromise but one which maximized what the crowd wanted without leaving excessive leftovers, then chestnut stuffing, garlic leek mashed red potatoes and porcini turkey gravy. Baked fennel but not enough. Stuffed grape leaves from the mother-in-law. Clearly a bit more color was in order and something substantial to fill out the menu without encouraging excessive consumption, always a problem for this meal. Caponata, the Sicilian eggplant dish, suggested itself from bob's memory of some variation he vaguely remembered having once, maybe in Naples, perhaps confused with pepperonata, the sweet pepper analog. As an American unconstrained by Italian food rules, merging these memories in a new improvisation was no problem. Checking out two traditional Italian recipes by Americans who'd lived in Florence provided the outline for a cold dish one referred to as a "relish". But both had wine vinegar in them, the first ingredient to be vetoed by bob for the warm version. One even had roasted red peppers in it, but not enough for bob's taste. The spices were adjusted by the mother-in-law specialist. The result was not only a hit at thanksgiving, but was quickly repeated soon after with equal enthusiasm.


3 small diameter eggplants (for fewer dark seeds)
olive oil for frying
2 - 3 large stalks celery, chopped coarsely
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
3 T olive oil
6 - 7 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 T (heaping) tomato paste
0.4 lb garlic saturated roasted red peppers, chopped (about 3/4 c)
4 1/4 oz (119 g) chopped ripe olives
3 T capers
1 T sugar
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 T lemon juice
optional hint of cayenne red pepper


  1. Peel the eggplants and slice crosswise into 1/2 - 5/8 inch thick sections. Put them in a colander salting each layer and put a weighted plate on top to press them for 20 minutes or so. Then rinse, dry, and cut roughly into cubes.
  2. Sauté the eggplant cubes all together in a large pot.
  3. Meanwhile sauté the onion and celery in olive oil about 10 minutes.
  4. Then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, red peppers, olives, capers, and sugar and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add the eggplant cubes, salt, pepper, lemon juice, stir well and heat through if the eggplant was done earlier, then remove from heat.


  1. Serve warm.
  2. You can substitute real fresh green Italian (or otherwise gourmet) olives (maybe a third of a cup of de-pitted chopped product) for the canned olives we had on hand the first time we tried this, as we did the second time.
capepper.htm: 18-apr-1999 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]