Mixed vegetable and bean caponata

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Vegetarian mains

Mixed vegetable and bean caponata

Main Serves 8 2h
Sicily has always been the melting pot of Mediterranean cuisine. Given their history of invading hordes from all corners of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, things must have been fairly fluid so it doesn't seem that blasphemous to take a Sicilian classic and change it a bit.


  • 2 small aubergines
  • 2 courgettes
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp good quality wine vinegar
  • 2 red peppers
  • ½ head celery, finely sliced and blanched in boiling water
  • 1 bulb fennel (optional), finely sliced and blanched in boiling water
  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets and blanched in boiling water
  • 1 tin borlotti beans, or 150g soaked and cooked
  • handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • olive oil


Prep time: 1h
Cooking time: 1h
  • Step 1

    Dice and salt the aubergine and courgette. Leave for an hour, drain, rinse and dry.
  • Step 2

    In a large pan on a low-medium heat, soften the onion in olive oil. Add the garlic, tomatoes and sugar and slowly cook until the mixture has started to darken. Cool a little and add the vinegar. Check the taste – it should be mildly sweet and sour – more agrodolce than Chinese.
  • Step 3

    Preheat oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7, toss the aubergines in olive oil and roast until cooked. Do the same with courgette and red peppers. Cool the peppers in a plastic bag and peel off the skin. Chop the peppers and courgette into 1.5cm dice and the aubergine into 2.5cm dice.
  • Step 4

    Gently fold all the ingredients into the sauce including the celery, fennel, cauliflower, beans and parsley and warm gently. Serve lukewarm with the beef.
  • Step 5

    A proper Sicilian caponata will usually include anchovies and capers but as an accompaniment for beef it really doesn't need it. Because of the sweet and sour element, caponata will keep well in the fridge for at least a week.

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