The word ‘caponata’ first appears in print in an etymological text printed in the Sicilian harbour city of Messina in 1759 where it is defined as a 'dish made up of various things'. Indeed, this dish is as rich and diverse as Sicily’s history, using base ingredients such as aubergines, raisins and olives introduced to Italy by North Africa, Greece and other Mediterranean countries. If travelling throughout Sicily and Italy as a whole, you will rarely find two caponata recipes which are the same; each family will have their favourite mix of Mediterranean vegetables they like.
We've used casarecce pasta, a shape which literally translates as ‘homemade’ and is traditionally made by wrapping the small pieces of dough around a metal rod (a ferro or ferretto in Italian) to create its signatory curves. We recommend using artisanal casarecce mad with a bronze die, since it provides the pasta with a rougher, more porous texture which in turn allows for the pasta sauce to easily cling to the pasta as it saturates all the minute imperfections across the surface.
Incredibly satisfying and even better tasting the next day, this sauce can be made ahead of time. It can also be served as a side or salad in which case remove the tinned chopped tomatoes to make it less saucy. *Chef’s Tip: if serving as a salad, allow to cool to room temperature and serve with garlic crostini!
Preparation time: 45 mins
Calories per serving: 656kcal
- 500g casarecce pasta
- 2 aubergines, cubed
- 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
- 1 red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
- 1onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves
- 200g olives pitted and cut in half
- 50 g capers (rinsed if salted)
- 300g tomatoes, roughly chopped – you can use either vine tomatoes or cherry tomatoes for a slightly sweeter flavour. *Chef’s Tip, if you don’t like the tomato skins, you can blanch your tomatoes in boiling water for 1-2 minutes after which you will be able to easily remove the skins – this works better with larger tomatoes.
- 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1tbsp tomato paste
- 2tbsp brown sugar
- Handful of raisins (optional)
- 1 1/2 tbspred wine vinegar
- Extra virgin olive oil,as required
- Salt for pasta and to taste
- A bunch of parsley, finely chopped
- A few basil leaves
- a handful of toasted pine nuts
- grated vegan cheese to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C. Place the cubed aubergine in a bowl, add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of salt and toss. Transfer into a roasting tin lined with baking parchment, spread equally and roast for 15-20 minutes until soft.
- Meanwhile, heat another splash of oil in the pan, add in the celery, pepper, onion and cook for around 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes until softened.
- Add in the fresh tomatoes, cooking for 3-5 minutes until they begin to soften.
- Next add in the tomato paste and half the tinned tomatoes, stir and continue to cook on a medium heat. If the sauce doesn’t look ‘liquid’ enough to coat the pasta, add in the rest of the chopped tomatoes.
- Add in the olives, capers, roasted aubergine, and raisons if using and continue to simmer for a further 10 minutes
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to boil and cook your casarecce according to packet instructions – however, be sure to check the pasta a good 2 minutes before the given cooking time, we like it a little al dente.
- Add in the vinegar and the brown sugar and turn up the heat to reduce and thicken the sauce slightly. Be sure to continue to stir so as not to burn the bottom of the pan.
- Drain your pasta and add straight to the caponata sauce. Reserve a good cup of salty pasta water in case you need to loosen the sauce.
- In a dry pan lightly toast the pine nuts, keep an eye on them as they can burn easily!
- Sprinkle your chopped parsley, toasted pine nuts and basil leaves (and vegan cheese if using) and serve immediately. Buon appetito!
At Pasta Evangelists, we bring a taste of Italy to your kitchen. Prepared using the freshest ingredients, our gourmet pasta dishes are perfect for those looking to enjoy restaurant-quality meals, delivered to your door, and ready in under five minutes. Order from our weekly menu today, and we’ll offer you 25% off your first delivery - simply enter the code BLOG25 at checkout.