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The Piazza Family Sicilian Caponata with Cornmeal Crackers

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The Piazza Family Sicilian Caponata with Cornmeal Crackers

The Piazza Family Sicilian Caponata with Cornmeal Crackers
Alberto Peroli
Provided by:
total prep
Recipe courtesy of The Italian Table by Ron Suhanosky/Kyle Books, 2011.

Colleen’s mother’s family comes from Sicily, which is also where caponata originated. One of its main ingredients, capers, are indigenous to the island and turn up in many of the best Sicilian recipes. Colleen’s Grandpa (Joe) Piazza, who started out as a cook, spent time perfecting his versions of many such classics, which were served for years at his restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, the famous Café di Napoli, and passed down through the family. Every year, Colleen’s parents gather their garden vegetables, and this is one of their favorite recipes to jar and share with family and friends. For an antipasto or side dish, it’s really hard to beat a good caponata: Its flavors are both smoothly subtle and deeply satisfying; the overall effect is deliciously addictive. I added the crackers to provide a vehicle for this ambrosia, contributing some nice contrasting crunch and allowing it to be served as a canapé.


  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced Spanish onions, (1/4-inch cubes, from 1/2 medium onion)
  • 1/2 cup salt-cured capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup diced black olives (1/8-inch pieces)
  • 3 large eggplants, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • cornmeal crackers, for serving


  • Place the grapeseed oil in a heavy-bottomed braising pan over medium heat. Add the bell pepper, onions, capers, and black olives and lightly sauté, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the eggplant and continue to cook over medium heat for an additional 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. The eggplant should become soft and translucent.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and serve with cornmeal crackers.