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Overhead photo of roasted vegetable caponata in white bowl.

Roasted Vegetable Caponata without Tomatoes

Michele
Vegetable Caponata is a roasted version of the classic Sicilian sweet-and-sour condiment with a couple of twists–zucchini and bell peppers are added while the ever-present tomatoes are taken out. This tasty mixture with olives, capers, raisins and pine nuts actually gets better as it sits–reason enough to make an extra-large batch!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Side Dish, Salad, Condiment
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, ¾” chunks
  • pounds zucchini or yellow squash ¾” thick, quarter or half-moon pieces, depending on size
  • pounds red, yellow or orange bell peppers (no green), ¾” chunks
  • 1 pound yellow onion, large dice or thin slices cut in ½ (about 3 cups chopped)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 5 large celery stalks medium dice or thin slices (about 2 heaping cups chopped)
  • ¾ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup pitted, large green olives, cut into ¼ lengthwise (Sicilian preferred)
  • ½ cup capers, drained
  • ½ cup raisins (black or golden or mixed)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • cup chopped mixed herbs (optional; see Note below.)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Then, prep and gather all ingredients according to specifications above.
  • Toast pine nuts: Add pine nuts to a small skillet and place it over medium-low heat. Heat pine nuts until lightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not walk away! Pine nuts (or any nut, for that matter) can turn from toasted to burned very quickly; so, close monitoring is a must. Once toasted, remove them from heat and let them cool. This step can be done up to 1 day in advance.
    ½ cup pine nuts
  • Spray three parchment-lined sheet pans lightly with oil. Then, arrange the prepped bell peppers, zucchini/yellow squash and eggplant in a single layer on separate pans since they all cook at varying times. Spray the tops of the vegetables lightly with olive oil. Do not add any salt.
    2 pounds eggplant,, 1½ pounds zucchini or yellow squash, 1½ pounds red, yellow or orange bell peppers (no green),
  • Place the sheet pans in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Turn all the pans around and roast until tender and lightly browned. This may take about another 20-30 minutes for the peppers about 30 minutes or so for the zucchini and eggplant, depending on your oven. The vegetables should be tender but not overcooked and mushy. It’s ok if some of the pieces get fairy caramelized as they will look very beautiful in the final dish!
  • Meanwhile, while the vegetables are roasting in the oven, add the onions, olive oil and crushed red pepper (if including) to a large skillet over medium heat and cook for 5 minutes. Then, add the celery and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, turn off the heat. The vegetables should have a little bit of crunch at this point and not be overcooked and very soft.
    1 pound yellow onion,, ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, Pinch crushed red pepper, 5 large celery stalks
  • Once the eggplant, zucchini/squash and bell peppers are all finished cooking, return the onion/celery mixture to medium heat.
  • Whisk the vinegar and sugar together, then pour it into the onion mixture, along with the olives, capers, raisins, salt and black pepper and mix well. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer about 3-5 minutes.
    ¾ cup red wine vinegar, ¾ cup sugar, ¾ cup pitted, large green olives,, ½ cup capers, drained, ½ cup raisins, ½ tsp salt, Pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • Then, gently stir in all of the roasted vegetables and mix to coat well, taking care not to break up the pieces of roasted veggies.
  • Bring mixture to a simmer and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes, gently stirring a few times. You want the entire mixture to be coated in the vinegar/sugar solution. Taste and adjust the seasonings–add more vinegar or sugar as needed to balance the flavors.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool a bit. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to transfer the caponata to a bowl or container and discard any residual liquid. Alternatively, you can keep the mixture in the residual liquid–see Note below.
  • The caponata can be served immediately or enjoyed later. It actually will get better as it sits (although the color may darken over time)! Just bring it to room temperature and give it a light stir before serving. Fold in the pine nuts and herbs at the time of serving. Buon Appetito!
    ⅓ cup chopped mixed herbs

Notes

  • This recipe makes approximately 6 cups and will condense and shrink a bit more over time. You can cut this recipe in half for a smaller batch.
  • Be sure to roast the eggplant, zucchini/summer squash and bell peppers on separate sheet pans, since they will all take different amounts of times to cook.
  • Do not use green bell peppers in this dish. They have a completely different flavor than red/yellow/orange bell peppers and are not ideal for this recipe.
  • The trick to making a great caponata is to not overcook the vegetables. You do not want them crunchy, but cooking them until they are mushy is not ideal either. Tender but still with structure is ideal!
  • If there is residual liquid once the caponata has finished cooking, you can either discard it or store the caponata in it. If left with the caponata, it will continue to “marinate”. So, if you prefer bolder flavors, keep it in and strain it out at the time of serving.
  • Fresh herbs are optional, but add a nice brightness to the final dish. Gently mix them in before serving. The best herbs to use for this are flat leaf parsley, mint and basil.
  • To store, refrigerate the vegetable caponata in an airtight container for up to one week or so, or freeze it for later use. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
 
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
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