The aubergine is a vegetable used in a lot of recipes in the Campania region, but its origins were not Roman but Arabic. The Arabs for a time seized control of Sicily in 965 A.D. until 1072. The Muslim rulers encouraged trade around the Mediterranean and brought with them exotic fruits and vegetables such as oranges, apricots, rice, artichokes, saffron & aubergines. The fertile land in the Campania region made aubergines an ideal plant to cultivate & make into creative dishes.
The Italian name for an aubergine is Melanzana which is a corruption of mela insana meaning mad apple!
Mulignane ca se fa a’ Napule è semp’a meglio! The aubergines that is made in Naples is always the best!
Mulignane picchi-pacchio-Stewed aubergines
Serves 6 to 8
6 Medium sized aubergines
Coarse grain sea salt
900g Cherry tomatoes
75mL Extra virgin olive oil
500mL Sunflower oil
225g Plain flour
3 Garlic cloves sliced into fine slithers
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
To prepare, peel the aubergines and cut them into strips about 10cm long and 1cm thick. Arrange the aubergines on a platter and scatter with coarse salt. Place a heavy weight on top of the platter and rest it for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Place the cherry tomatoes in a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
Heat half the olive oil and & all of the vegetable oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Rinse the aubergines strips under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Very lightly dust the aubergines with flour and when the oil is hot add some of the aubergines to the frying pan until both sides are lightly coloured-about 2 minutes. Transfer the aubergines to a serving platter lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Meanwhile prepare the sauce by heating the remaining ½ of the olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat and when the oil is warm, add the garlic & lightly sauté for a few seconds. Add the cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, mixing every so often with a wooden spoon. Add the aubergines and mix in very well, cooking for a further 3 minutes. Add the basil and oregano and mix again. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.