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Benvenuti al Tutti!

Welcome to Luigi's Tastes of Italy

This blog is my small dedication to Italian cooking, and is abolutely 100% free of pretentiousness, complicated ingredients, or any effort to present Italian cuisine as anything other than it really is, very simple.

Hope you enjoy reading my posts and maybe trying out some of the recipes.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Melanzane al Funghetto (Eggplant/Aubergine Starter)


Upon reading this blog title, many people may have correctly guessed that the Italian word Funghetto implies something to do with Mushrooms, given that the latin term for Mushrooms, is Funghi. So if you were out dining in an Italian resturaunt and you were to order 'Melanzane Funghetto' from the menu, you may unless you read it very carefully, sit there quite rightly expecting to get something containing mushrooms.

Sadly however, you will be dissapointed.

Melanzane Funghetto, in context of this recipe, actually just means Eggplant (Melanzane) cooked in a mushroom style.

Actually not only in technique, but incidentally the finished dish gives the eggplant a sort of sliced up mushroom, type of appearance. 

This mushroom less, un-seasonal part of the dish however, is where the dissapointment will end. As this recipe, although undoubtedly, embarassingly ridicolously simple to make, is hugely tasteful.

No really. Considering there are barely any ingredients at all, it  is actually astounding how good it tastes.

As mentioned countless times before, that is the real beauty of Italian cooking. Largely speaking Italian cuisine is about delivering maximum flavours with minimal ingredients.  Just simple cooking with simple ingredients, simply presented, but with results that taste fantastically good.

It is possible to rustle this up in around ten minutes, and easily feed, (if not impress), four hungry people with a nice light lunch, for far less cost than the average price of  a couple of burgers from Mc wotsit.  With, no salt laden ingredients, artery clogging fats, or extra sugars, just nutrionally healthier, natural, and more importantly tastier.

So far as the ingredients, although any Eggplant will do, it is worth pointing out that you should ideally choose a long slender thin skinned Eggplant variety, such as a Violleta Lunga, or similar.  The reason for this, is that the dry center part, which often contains seeds, needs to be trimmed out of this. So it would just be wasteful to use a huge chunky fruit.  When it comes to salting them, don't bother. Aubergines, Eggplants, Melanzane, do not need these days to be salted and pressed to remove bitterness. Modern varieties have had these traits bred out of them. Despite the fact many recipes and chefs still insist on maintaining this tradition. It isn't needed honestly. And especially not needed when cooking them in a rapid 'stir-fry' style, as in this recipe.

However if you want to waste perfectly good salt, and make them even more oil suckingly fiendish when frying them, be my guest.  Be warned though, that once past the "sponge" stage, they do then release the oil back, so don't go crazy with the olive oil, or we'll be swimming in oil.



INGREDIENTS:

1 large eggplant (aubgerine)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly,
1 Anchovy fillet
1/4 of dried pepperoncini finely sliced, or a 1/4 teaspoon of regular chilli flakes
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to season

Few sprigs of flatleaf parsley finely chopped, and an additional 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over to finish.



METHOD:


- Firstly, slice up (across the width) your eggplant into approximately quarter inch slices, next chunk them into 1 inch long slithers, but make sure you discard the center parts, which have little taste and are a bit dry.  You especially want to keep the skin, as this adds a smokey taste, and actually gives the dish the right "look".
The photo shown is more or less the right size. Albeit you'll probably be neater than me, but you get an idea of the sort of chunked up size your looking for.


-Next heat a large frying pan over a moderate heat, and add the oil, when fairly hot throw in the sliced up garlic, chilli, and the anchovy fillet, stir till it melts and add the aubergine. Essentially the photo on the left shows the main flavours. Namely, garlic, anchovy, and pepperoncini (dried chilli).


-Keep moving the pan contents around, making sure nothing is "catching" or getting burnt.  You do however, want to get some colour onto the ingredients. You will find the aubergines will render down a little, and colour up nicely, however we don't want mush.  So 12-15  minutes is about the right fry time here.



-On this occasion we served them onto toasted bread, and served with a heap of lightly dressed Aragula (Rocket) leaves, which accompany it nicely. I like Aragula dressed with nothing more than extra virgin olive, and lemon juice, but feel free to use your favourite dresssing.  Unfortunately just a camera phone snap shown on the left, but an idea of what it looks like. Well ok, only slightly mushroom like.



SERVING SUGGESTION:

This is particularly nice served onto some toasted crusy bread, sprinkled with parsley and drizzled with peppery extra virgin olive oil.  Alternatively this can be served as a nice side dish to accompany something like Italian meatballs or a fried Steak alla Pizzaiola Etc.   Enjoy!

17 comments:

literarygeek said...

This sounds delicious! I particularly like the idea of using it as a side dish, although on toast sounds good too. Next time I get hold of an aubergine, I'm definitely having a go! :)

Chow and Chatter said...

looks delicious

Mari said...

That sounds pretty good but do you have to use Anchovy?

Have you posted a recipe for Steak alla Pizzaiola? I have been dying to try that?

I need to find myself an Italian guy in NY that knows his way around the kitchen like you =)

Luigi said...

You don't have to use Anchovy, but you could as it tastes subtle, and doesn't really taste in any way fishy at all, when its cooked as an ingredient.

Most people get put off Anchovy because of the taste of it, when first encountered on a pizza.

Lady Boheme said...

Dear Luigi, your blog there are good Italian recipes! This eggplant with mushroom is very good!

Serendipity said...

Hi Luigi! You blog is very interesting and the descriptions of your italian recipes are very clear! Why are you keen on italian food? ...maybe you have italian origin? :-)

justjoycee said...

Nice post, I have learned something new, and I look forward to trying your recipe.

Velva said...

Oh, how I wished I saw this recipe before I took out the eggplant bushes for the season. I was at the point where I could not keep up with the number of eggplants that I was harvesting. I was growing a slender green eggplant-quite lovely. Your recipe would have been perfect!
As always, you have provided your foodie friends with yet another great Italian recipe. Thanks!

Tania said...

Those Melanzane al Funghetto are delicious! I also add tomatoes, so I can do the "scarpetta" :-P

Micaela said...

io le adoro!!! di solito aggiungo anche qualche pomodorino!!! :-)

Joanne said...

I think your description of Italian cooking is spot-on. This is why I am so glad to be Italian!

I love the simple flavors in this dish. Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies and I love how much the flavor must shine through in this.

sabri said...

Hi Luigi, you have really a nice blog. I'm really glad you added to my followers, so I had the possibility to visit you. Bye

figtree said...

I cant wait to try this! I love eggplant.

Kim said...

This sounds like it would be full of flavor and delicious with a salad. Great with bread or on it's own. I loved the story about the eggplant resembling a mushroom. A great post :D

Miss Melanie said...

I gotta try this one for sure.

Radici di zenzero said...

Hi Luigi nice to meet you! I'm Paola, i love melanzane a fungetto!!!
Bravissimo

Luigi said...

Hey Paola, thanks for your kind comment :) Nice to meet you. :)

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