Caponata – Sweet and Sour Eggplant Stew

If Sicily’s persona was a dish, caponata would be it: a celebration of contrasts. It is both sweet and sour. The combination of sweet and sour even has its own name, agrodolce. After two weeks in the region I had ordered caponata many times and discovered that each version had its own style, sometimes surprisingly pulpy and stewy, other times firm and cold, like a salad. My recipe has a slightly firm texture but still plays homage to its stewed nature, perfect for spreading over crusty bread or including on an antipasto platter.  





  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g tomato passata
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • few basil leaves, optional


  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes or vegan parmesan + extra to serve


Step 1.

In a medium pot, heat the oil on low and fry the garlic for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to burn. Pour in the passata, salt and basil, if using. Cover and simmer on low while you cook the polenta.

Step 2.

In a large pot, bring 8 cups of water to the boil, along with the salt. Once boiling, start whisking the water and then slowly pour in the polenta while you continue to whisk. Lower the heat and continue to stir until there are no lumps.

Step 3.

Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the polenta grains have softened. Take off the heat and hand-beat in the butter or oil and nutritional yeast or parmesan.

Step 4.

Spoon the polenta into serving bowls, then generously pour over the sugo. Or to do this Nonna-style, make a layer of polenta and spoon over some sugo, then spread over another layer of polenta and finish with more sugo.

Step 5.

Garnish with vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast flakes.

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