(serves 4-6 generously)

The word "caponata” was introduced by the Spanish in the period of Spanish rule over Southern Italy in 17th and 18th centuries and means confusion or mess so depicts the way ingredients are muddled together. This salad recipe, perfect in summer for lunch, was given to me by Antonio of La Bella Italia. He suggests making it sufficiently in advance so that all the ingredients are doused with the sweet sour flavour of the tomatoes, oil from the tuna and the robust olive oil.


3 thick slices, day-old, ciabatta or sourdough bread
500g-600g new season potatoes (skin on, simmered till cooked, then cooled and quartered)
200g green beans (topped, tailed, halved and cooked till al dente- firm to the tooth, soft to the bite)
8 Roma tomatoes (each cut into 6 pieces)
250g tuna in oil (when in New Zealand Antonio uses Sealord brand)
1 red onion (peeled, halved and thinly sliced)

30 sundried olives in oil (purchase from a speciality food store or speciality section of supermarket)
1/4 cup firmly packed torn basil leaves
1/2 tsp Sicilian dried oregano (purchase from a speciality food store)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1/2 tsp Sicilian chilli flakes (optional)
100ml (extra virgin olive oil, choose one with a gutsy flavour)


  • Preheat oven to 100ºC.
  • Place bread on a low-sided tray and bake in oven 20-30 minutes till dry but not browned. Remove from oven and cool. Break into rough chunks and place in a large bowl.
  • Add potatoes, beans, tomatoes, tuna and its oil, onion, olives, basil, oregano, salt, and chilli flakes if using. Toss to combine all ingredients.
  • Drizzle with enough of the oil to moisten salad and toss again to combine. Serve immediately or for preference in one to two hours’ time.