Sicilian caponata elevates burgers

By Jim Bailey

Here is a great summertime burger I believe you will be making over and over again. Sicilian caponata is generally prepared with what culinary experts call Sicilian aubergine. But being a Yankee, it is simply eggplant.

Sicilian preparation methods introduce a sweet and sour sauce as well, but I think that is just too much for a simple burger so I added just a subtle hint of sweetness from the grated apple while keeping this classic recipe true to form.

Although not truly a veggie burger, the addition of caponata as a topping promotes this juicy burger to a level that is both refreshing and different. Try it and see for yourself.

4 toasted English muffins
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1 apple, peeled, cored and grated(to equal 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon celery seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
Veggie caponata topping, recipe below

In a large mixing bowl, combine beef, pork, grated apple, oregano, basil and celery seeds. Add salt and pepper to taste. Form into 4 patties and place in refrigerator while preparing veggie caponata topping.
When ready, cook burgers either outside on the grill or inside in a skillet to your liking. Add a patty to each toasted English muffin and top with your homemade veggie caponata. Serve and enjoy!

For the veggie caponata topping: 1 small eggplant(peeled, cored and diced), salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons minced garlic in oil, 1 carrot (peeled and sliced thinly), 1 rib celery(thinly sliced), 1/2 pound fresh tomatoes (cored and chopped), 2 ounces roasted red bell peppers (chopped), 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 teaspoons capers, salt and black pepper to taste.

Place the eggplant in a large bowl and liberally sprinkle salt over them, turning so that most of the dices are touched by the salt. This shouldn’t take any more than 2-3 teaspoons. Let this set for 20 minutes. Rinse well under cold water, let drain and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large skillet, add the olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. When hot, add the carrot and celery, saute for 3-4 minutes, or until celery is starting to soften. Add the eggplant, tomatoes and bell peppers. Cook, while frequently stirring, for 10-12 minutes, or until carrot is crisp tender. Reduce heat to medium-low and add vinegar, capers and celery seeds. Allow to simmer 2 minutes. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Filed Under: The Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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