Monday, 2 February 2015

Parmigiana di Melanzane (a guest post by Linda Poulnott)

I have been proud and pleased to host a "residency" of guest posts from my friend and Italian food aficionado Linda Poulnott. Linda, originally from Scotland, moved to the Bay of Naples over 20 years ago. Since then, she has immersed herself into Neapolitan life, the language and culture - in particular, the culinary heritage. 

Somehow, Linda managed to find me through the magic of the internet. We have lots of interests in common. She appears to tolerate the fact that I prattle mainly about nonsense, and has somehow seen fit to give me her own authentic recipes and cooking tips to share with my readers. I wonder why such immense generosity, but gladly and gratefully accept. It would be churlish to do anything else, right?

Regular readers will have discovered her excellent thoughts on how to cook like a real Neapolitan Mamma here: Her first recipe, a satisfying supper dish of mixed mushroom risotto can be found here:

If you're not a regular reader, then I highly recommend that you read all of Linda's guest posts, but perhaps you would like to dig into this, her newest post, first!

Thank you Linda for an amazing series of blog posts. I am truly gobsmacked at the time, trouble and effort you have gone to - and I'm not a woman usually lost for words. I would also like to say your recipes are wonderful. Simple, direct and full of all the things which make the best Italian food special; great ingredients and cooking done with love.

PARMIGIANA DI MELANZANE (Neapolitan Baked Aubergines)

This dish has got to go down as one of my all-time favourites. In Naples it’s usually eaten as a starter or served as a side dish with meat. I sometimes make a batch at the weekend and use it as a sandwich filler on a crusty bread roll to take with my packed lunch on workdays. It can also be cut into small portions and frozen. This version is suitable for vegetarians.

Ingredients for 6 people

1.5 kilos of aubergines

A 400g bottle or can of tomato “passata” (sieved tomatoes) or chopped tomatoes

1 small onion

300 grams of Mozzarella, sliced

A small bowl (around 8 tablespoons) of finely grated parmesan

A handful of fresh Basil

Olive oil (not extra virgin as it can be too strong and overpower the flavours)

Salt and pepper to taste

You will need:

An oven proof dish (a casserole dish is ideal)

2 frying pans

A colander

An oven


1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

2. Wash and cut the aubergines lengthways into thinnish slices. Cover in salt for around an hour and leave in a colander to drain out the bitter liquid. Rinse the aubergines well and gently squeeze out any remaining liquid. Pat dry and set aside.

3. Chop the onion finely and add to a frying pan with a couple of tablespoons of oil. Fry gently until soft, then add the tomatoes and a couple of basil leaves to the pan. Simmer  for about 20mins until the sauce becomes quite thick then add salt and pepper to taste. (Remember the aubergines may still have some salt left over from the draining process, so go easy!)

4. While the sauce is reducing. Add some oil to another frying pan and fry batches of the drained aubergines. Cook them until they turn a light golden colour, then drain them on some kitchen roll paper.

5. Slice the mozzarella cheese and grate the parmesan.

6. Use an ovenproof dish. A casserole is ideal. Spoon in enough sauce to cover the bottom, then add a layer of aubergine, a couple of slices of mozzarella and sprinkle some parmesan on top. Add another layer of sauce, aubergine then cheese etc, etc. Continue layering until you use all the ingredients.

7. Finish off with some mozzarella and parmesan sprinkled on top. This will turn a nice golden colour in the oven.

8. Bake in a pre-heated oven set at about 150 degrees Celsius for around 30mins.

Locally, we have variations of this dish. If you don’t like aubergines you can use courgettes instead. Some people dip the aubergines in a beaten egg before frying. (In my opinion, it makes it a bit too heavy).  Some folk add slices of ham or salami. Delicious served with chunks of warm, fresh, crusty bread.


1 comment:

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