Monday, 16 May 2011
Melanzane Ripiene (Mozzarella Stuffed Aubergines) on a sunny may day with freesias and sea breeze...
It's a hot May day... the windows are open and I can smell the sea. On the living room table a bunch of freesias and anemoni brings the scent of late Spring. The sea must be rough, today... a sweet breeze brings in the fragrance of the sea weed.
I like sea weed... when I go to the seaside I always chew a piece of translucent, emerald green seaweed. My cousin keeps seaweed in a bottle, with olive oil. I know, because she showed me the other day. If you turn the bottle upside down, the seaweed "swims"... looks like a beautiful lady in a frilly green dress.
The doorbell rings and Mamma walks into the house. "It's a hot day"- she says "Fa tanto caldo!" and she needs to change into something else, or "I will die!" - "Mi sento morire!" she adds. She looks hot and I notice she's already beginning to tan and looks pretty.
I can't resist... I have to look into her "carrello" to see what treasures she bought today. Out of her Mary Poppins bag pop artichokes, courgette flowers, zucchine,melanzane (aubergines) ... the colours, the smells, the textures, I can remember right now, even if I leave Anna in her "Sleeping Beauty" still world and come back to my grown up self.
Yesterday I made a dish which my mum used to make. I would always help her in the kitchen, even when I grew up. To us Italians, our kitchen is our TEMPLE.
Kitchens in Italy
Yesterday, in MY kitchen, I made "Melanzane ripiene" Stuffed Aubergines. I follow my mamma's recipe, which I know, as from a young child I would cook with her. Today I will write it down, and share one of my family's precious secrets.
The recipe is easy and somehow "light" as we don't usually fill vegetables with meat, rice or ricotta, in Puglia. We don't use ricotta, much, in savoury dishes. Our bread and mozzarella fillings are easier to digest, I think! I do make a "rotolo di ricotta e spinaci" though... a type of homemade pasta, which is really good. One day I'll post the recipe... But here is my melanzane.
(Stuffed Aubergines alla Pugliese)
(or two hungry people)
2 aubergines (eggplant)
a few really generous glugs of olive oil
plus some for the base
1 large mozzarella
(or two or three slices of bread)
few garlic cloves
grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs capers in vinegar
fresh parsley, chopped
6 or 7 cherry tomatoes
(you can use 3 or 4 tinned plum tomatoes, instead.
freshly milled black pepper
Cut your aubergines in half, lengthways. With the help of a spoon, scoop all the flesh out and then dice, into small cubes. You will be left with four shells to be filled. If you don't want your aubergines to go brown, place into a bowl of water and the juice of a lemon. I didn't and they went a little brown!
I put some cheese, parsley and pepper inside each shell
like my mamma used to do
In a frying pan, place a few glugs of olive oil (be generous, as the aubergine flesh tends to soak up the oil.) When hot, quickly add one clove of garlic or two, finely chopped. Stir for 5 seconds, then add the diced aubergine. Cook for three or four minutes, then add some of the bread (if the bread is dry, soak in some water, then squeeze the water out and add to the frying pan. I used 3/4 of a bread roll-panino)
Stir, then add a handful of Parmesan cheese. some parsley, a few capers, salt, pepper and one whole egg. Stir until the ingredients are blended together. By now it should be smelling wonderful. Garlic and parsley are a really fantastic combination!
This is your stuffing. Done!
Take off the heat and when cool, add the diced mozzarella.
In an oven dish, place about 4 cm of water, 3 tbs olive oil, 3 chopped garlic cloves, five or 6 cherry tomatoes, halved, or a couple of tinned tomatoes, chopped, then a tbs of capers, fresh parsley, a grating of Parmesan, salt and pepper. Place your four melanzane shells in the dish and distribute the stuffing, so each half is filled. Garnish with tomatoes and capers, some olive oil and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese.
I cooked my dish in a hot oven (220 C-425 F-gas mark 7) for about one hour. The finished dish should look brown all over, but not burnt. You'll know when it's ready, as your kitchen will smell just my mamma's did, in sunny Italy!
This must be eaten with crusty panini or baguette, which I love and maybe served with a good salad (that's what I did!) It's molto buono!
I love panini!