Tunisian Eggplant Caponata, Thermomix Recipe

Thermomix recipe for Mollie Katzen Eggplant Appetizer
In the late 1970s I had the privilege of
assisting two visionary book-lovers (Maggie and Peter) to realize their shared dream of opening North America’s first ‘cookbook only’ bookstore. “Books for Cooks” (now The Cookbook Store was (and still is) located in the vibrant heart of Toronto, Canada — easily accessible to the city’s avid foodies, chefs and bibliophiles.

But what does this have to do with a Thermomix recipe for eggplant caponata? One of the most popular vegetarian cookbooks of that time was Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook. For cooks of my generation with natural inclinations, it’s still a classic. (Since then, Katzen has been named by Health Magazine as one of  “The Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.”) So when, in 1988 she produced Still Life with Menu Cookbook, it too was well received.

That book’s “Tunisian Eggplant Appetizer” is one of the recipes I’ve prepared most often in my life. It’s a sort of caponata with a twist. (Caponata is traditionally Sicilian, and Tunisia is a stone’s throw across the water so these two recipes are closely related.) Many antipasto and capanata preparations have a sweet component, but Katzen’s does not. Its texture is creamy because of the way eggplant breaks down during cooking, and sour from red wine vinegar (do not substitute!). Olives and artichoke hearts make it heavenly for those of us who like that sort of thing. If you know someone who claims not to enjoy eggplant… I suggest you offer this as a test — I’ve never met a person who didn’t become greedy after the first mouth-full. Its a long-standing favourite at parties and pot-lucks, and now it’s becoming a Thermomix recipe too!

Thermomix recipe Eggplant Caponata

Busting two myths with one Thermomix recipe!

  • Myth #1:Everything cooked in a Thermomix comes out looking the same. I’ve read enough Thermomix reviews and blog posts by people who don’t yet own a Thermomix to know that this myth does exist. Some people suggest that everything cooked in a Thermomix comes out looking like puréed porridge. Simply not true. One of the least understood advantages of Thermomix is found in the power of its reverse function. Get friendly with REVERSE and a whole new world of non-chopped meals awaits. It’s understandable that some new Thermomix owners might not use the REVERSE function much. With the excitement of having a powerful new set of offset Solingen blades in the house, we all want to see how well they chop, grind, whip, and puree. But over time, we try new things and one day before we know it, we’re getting friendly with REVERSE. This seemingly ‘backward’ function is in fact revolutionary and futuristic. Quite “zen” really. Not only does it allow us to mix without chopping, but it allows for some very slow gentle stirring. Like a zen monk, except without the robe. REVERSE is a Thermomix function that does not hoard the limelight — it is a subtle quality. It waits quietly until you are ready to learn its power. Its one of the things that separates Thermomix from food processors and other machines. It’s one of my favourite things. I am partial to recipes that use the REVERSE function. This recipe uses a lot of REVERSE.
  • Myth #2: You must sprinkle salt on eggplant to render it less bitter before cooking. Also not true. Anymore. Once upon a time, it was necessary to degorgeeggplant slices. And depending on the variety of eggplant used, it may still help to do so, but most of the world’s cultivated eggplant varieties today are not bitter as before. And this recipe does not require salting the eggplant. Not salting means less work and less time… so it’s easy and quick to prepare. Especially with the wonder of Thermomix ;-)

    Eggplant cubed for Thermomix Caponata Recipe

5.0 from 1 reviews
Tunisian Eggplant Appetizer
Thermomix Caponata-style adaption of original recipe by Mollie Katzen.
Cuisine: Thermomix
Recipe type: Tunisia
  • 3 medium garlic cloves (use more if you love garlic)
  • 1 large onion, quartered (about 160g - 200 g.)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 50 g. (1.8 oz) olive oil
  • 50 g. (1.8 oz) tomato paste
  • 50 g. (1.8 oz) red wine vinegar (do not substitute)
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed (about 400 - 500g/14-17.6 oz) see photo above for cube size. If your cubes are too small, the result will be less chunky. We're striving for the sweet spot between creamy and chunky, so good-sized cubes works well, or a mix of larger and smaller cubes. Don't think, just do it! See note below the recipe about peeling eggplant
  • 100 g (3.5 oz) olives, pitted (can use green or black)
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) artichoke hearts, in quarters (can be marinated or not)
  • herbs, your choice of basil, oregano, tarragon
  • optional - a handful or two of loosely chopped fresh tomatoes, celery, capsicum see note below recipe
  1. Chop garlic 5 sec/speed 6. Add onion and chop 4 sec/speed 4.
  2. Push food down sides of bowl, add salt and olive oil, cook 5 min/Varoma/speed 1.
  3. Add eggplant cubes and cook 15 min/100°C/212ºF/REVERSE/spoon stir/CAP OFF
  4. Add tomato paste, vinegar, herbs and optional fresh tomatoes. Cook 3 minutes/Varoma/REVERSE/spoon speed/CAP OFF.
  5. Add olives and artichokes. Stir 1 minute/REVERSE/speed 1-2 (no heat) to combine. Do not eat this hot or warm. Best at room temp. Gets better with age -- really, really nice when made 1-3 days in advance. Serve with pita bread, pita chips, lightly salted corn chips, ciabatta bread chunks, or forks.
about peeling eggplant: peeling is optional and will depend on your preference of texture. If the eggplant is peeled, your caponata will be softer, mushier, and more spreadable for using on crackers and sandwiches. If left unpeeled, it will be chunkier and more colourful, with a little more texture and 'bite'.

about additional ingredients: I sometimes add a bit of celery when adding the onion. Most usually, I'll add capsicum or tomatoes for added colour and texture -- this can be done when adding the tomato paste and vinegar.

Mollie Katzen Tunisian Eggplant Thermomix Recipe



See 26 comments from people who cook with Thermomix:

  1. Madame Thermomix August 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

    Ah, ma chère Hélène you have done it again! Another fab Thermomix recipe, and two busted myths, to boot. Lovely to read your own prose, too! Love this recipe; it reminds me of my own Caponata adapted from Antonio Carlucci:

    I use my trusty Thermomix to chop and blanche the onions and celery before adding to my eggplant – which I fry in a big, heavy-bottomed pot ;-)

    I’m so glad you make yours from start to finish in your Thermomix. You’ve shown us it can be done! Thanks for sharing xx

  2. ThermomixBlogger Helene August 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Hi Madame, so nice to see you here again. And thanks for sharing your link! I do so adore capers, so I’m quite sure I’d enjoy your recipe too. Happy mixing :-)

  3. InTolerant Chef August 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    This looks absolutely delicious indeed! I have that Molly Katzen book in my collection, and it was so helpful in showing me a whole new way of thinking about food when I was first starting out :)

  4. ThermomixBlogger Helene August 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    Yay! I’ve seen a lot of cookbooks in my life and this one is still a favourite :) InTolerant Chef, you will find that Katzen’s recipe specifies marinated artichoke hearts but I’ve tested this recipe with marinated and simply tinned ones, no problem. She also specifies green olives, and I’ve tested with black calamata olives just fine. I am more likely to have the black ones on hand, so that’s what I use. I also add handfuls of tomatoes and capsicum quite often which I don’t believe are in the original. Oh and… I use more garlic ;-)

  5. Nora August 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Helene, your description of the reverse blade function is just precious and so true! It’s because of all these unassuming clever features that Thermomix is such an all rounder. Your caponata is not without reminding me of the ratatouille I often make with the super kitchen machine and no it’s not mushy!

  6. ThermomixBlogger Helene August 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Hi Nora, thanks for taking the time to stop by and contribute here. I’m sure you must be busy with your own wonderful recipes! The “Curly Brioche” are SO tempting (and pretty!). I can’t wait to try. Keep them coming… I hope to see that ratatouille on your blog soon ;-)

  7. Nora August 31, 2012 at 5:24 am #

    Well, your wish is granted Helene! I must have seen it coming because I posted the recipe no later than in June http://journalofafrenchfoodie.com/2012/06/11/ratatouille/
    How’s that for clairvoyance!

  8. Mara September 1, 2012 at 7:32 am #

    This looks promising. Like Nora, I’m reminded of the spanish “pisto” (nothing to do with pistou, it’s very much like a ratatouille) which I make a lot in the Thermomix, too.

  9. aniaig September 3, 2012 at 7:21 am #

    please telle me I have the 21 model. Can you write me the differnce in this recipe

  10. Mara September 6, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    Hello Aniaig, I think that the one big difference is that TM21 doesn’t have a reverse button. When this function is called for, you should use the butterfly and the lowest speed possible there. I believe the rest should be ok as is.

  11. ThermomixBlogger Helene September 9, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

    Hi there aniaig… sorry for the delay in responding (Thank you Mara!) I thought I had answered your question last week, but I realize now I had only answered it ‘in my mind’, and not actually on the blog. As Mara said, there is no reverse setting on your TM21. So in the case of this particular recipe I would prefer not to use the Thermomix at all… I think that by using the butterfly and low setting you will likely end up with mush instead of chunks.

  12. Mara September 10, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Not that mushy, really. It won’t have the same super-chunky texture but it will be chunky, that’s for sure. I’ve made pisto and many a stew in the TM21 using this method and it worked ok.

  13. ThermomixBlogger Helene September 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    Okay Mara — I trust your opinion (and your experience!) completely ;-)

  14. Amy | Appetite for Discovery September 17, 2012 at 5:26 am #

    Helene, I am loving this recipe and have had it for lunch with grilled fish twice in the last 3 days! I added courgettes/zucchini, okra and tomatoes – delicious!

  15. ThermomixBlogger Helene September 17, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    That wonderful to hear Amy! Thanks for sharing your results with us. I love the sound of added courgette, okra and tomatoes. I can just imagine how even just a bit of okra would meld well with the combined textures of this recipe. Lovely!

  16. Halex May 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Absolutely delicious. Thank you.

    I added home grown green capsicum.

    You are a genius.


  17. ThermomixBlogger Helene May 23, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    Hi Halex — glad you tried it and enjoyed it. I’m much more of a glutton than a genius, but thanks ;-)

  18. peter November 19, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    just a man with a Thermomix and new to it and egg plant – tried this recipe without the olives , artichokes or tomatoes but heaps of herbs straight from the garden and in a word – its fantastic.
    Could only try it hot straight out of the thermomix and it is beaut – have stuck it in a lock top container and its now in the fridge getting cold to have with chook for tea.

    thanks for the recipe – will buy egg fruit again for sure

    Merry Christmas and kind regards


  19. ThermomixBlogger Helene November 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

    Ho Ho Ho Peter, your comment made me laugh! Methinks t’is the sign of a good recipe if you can remove three ingredients and still enjoy it as much as you did with this one! So glad you tried it, and even more happy to hear you may be inspired to try eggplant again. Mix on!!!

  20. Kim April 10, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    I had a huge eggplant that needed using ASAP, found this recipe and loved it!!!
    We eat it on eggs for breakfast, in wraps, tossed through pasta, yummy!!

  21. ThermomixBlogger Helene April 12, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    Hi Kim — so glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe (and thanks for taking time to return here with your feedback!). This Caponata has been my go-to recipe for eggplants for many years now — but made even easier with Thermomix. Whenever I see nice eggplants at a good price I just jump on them, knowing exactly how I will enjoy them. Cheers and keep on mixing :)

  22. Maryon Jeane December 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

    How many people does this recipe serve?!?

  23. ThermomixBlogger Helene December 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm #

    Hi Maron jeane — It’s hard to say how many this will “serve” because it’s not typically served as a meal or “portioned” as such. It’s used more like a dip/filling/side much as you would use Antipasto. Sorry to be so vague… I can tell you this recipe makes a good sized quantity because I like to keep it in the fridge to be used over the course of a few days, if I can keep it hidden that long ;-)


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