Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Cauliflower Caponata

Cauliflower Caponata

As you know by now, I love all foods Mediterranean, and caponata is a wonderful dish that melds many flavors of the region. Traditionally the main ingredient is eggplant, but I’m super excited to share a wonderful variation with you that capitalizes on the wild popularity of cauliflower. As a cruciferous veg, cauliflower gets high marks for its nutrients, and its mild taste really lets the sweet and savory ingredients in this recipe come through. Caponata is often served as an appetizer, but it’s also a wonderful main dish when you want something light. I love to mound it on grilled bread slices for a fast bruschetta or serve it in a bowl surrounded by bell pepper sections to use as dippers—easy-peasy when company’s coming over. Enjoy!


  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup diced celery hearts or inner stalks of a full head
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 to 6 peperoncini, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons brined capers, drained
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Step 1

Heat the vinegar in a small saucepan or in the microwave and pour on top of the raisins. Soak for 30 minutes to plump them and infuse flavor. In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to boil and blanch the cauliflower for 90 seconds, strain, and cool to room temperature in a large bowl.

Step 2

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup of olive oil, the garlic, bell pepper, red onion, celery, and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook for several minutes, stirring frequently, until the bell pepper is tender-crisp and the onion and celery are translucent. Remove from the heat and pour over the cauliflower. Add the raisins and vinegar to the cauliflower mixture along with the peperoncini, pine nuts, capers, remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil, lemon juice and zest, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix the ingredients. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. It keeps for 5-7 days in the fridge.

Yields 6 appetizer servings