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Fennel and Fig Caponata

  • Author: Tessa
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 1 qt. (4 entree/12 appetizer servings) 1x


Gluten free/vegan.


  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 1/2 C red onion, diced 1/2″ (1 medium)
  • 2 C fennel bulb (the white part), diced 1/2″ (1 medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/3 C sherry vinegar
  • 1 C crushed tomatoes in puree, from a can
  • 8 large dried Calmyrna figs (see notes; 3/4 C diced), stems removed, diced 1/4″
  • 2 T lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 T capers, drained
  • 1/2 C pitted olives (I like green Cerignolas or kalamata), roughly chopped
  • 1 t grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t ground black pepper
  • 1/3 C fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 T chopped parsley or basil leaves
  • For serving: rice or crostini, crumbled feta


  1. Heat olive oil over medium in a 10 inch, high sided skillet. Add onion and fennel and cook until softened but not brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add vinegar, tomatoes, figs, sugar, capers, olives, lemon zest, cinnamon, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Raise heat to bring to a vigorous simmer, then reduce heat and simmer gently until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and herbs.
  3. Serve warm or cooled to room temperature, with crackers or crostini as an appetizer, or over rice with plenty of feta as an entree. If making the caponata ahead, store in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Feel free to substitute another variety of dried fig. Calmyrna figs are large, so you may need 10 to 12 of smaller types. In total, you should have about 3/4 cup of diced figs.

If serving the caponata as an entree, note that it’s very flavorful. Serve light portions with plenty of rice and feta to balance the acidity and sweetness. The caponata would also be great over pasta with plenty of parmesan!

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Condiment
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean