This is quite possibly the most iconic recipe from the region of Puglia. The remarkable thing about it is how the broccoli rabe almost melts together with the pasta. This comes from the old Pugliese technique of boiling the pasta and vegetables together, and then sautéing them in garlic, oil, and anchovies.
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe
April 13, 2021
Baked mussels is a classic dish that Nonna Romana has carried with her from her days in Mola di Bari, Puglia. Even when times were hard, mussels were always plentiful in the fishing village, so plentiful that you could practically go down to the beach and scoop up your own!
Baked Mussels
April 14, 2021
The eggplant, which is cooked "mushroom style" in a light tornato and basil sauce, has a buttery quality that melts in your mouth.

Mushroom Style-Eggplant

Melanzane a Funghetti

PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES • COOK TIME: 35 MINUTES • YIELD: 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

The eggplant, which is cooked "mushroom style" in a light tornato and basil sauce, has a buttery quality that melts in your mouth.

I lead culinary tours in Italy, and I first tasted this simple Neapolitan eggplant dish when Nonna Rosa carne to cook for my guests during my first tour in Sorrento. She was a hit, and so was this amazing dish! The eggplant, which is cooked “mushroom style” in a light tornato and basil sauce, has a buttery quality that melts in your mouth.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (907 g) eggplant (about 2 large), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
  • 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) olive oil, far frying (or any frying oil you like), divided 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 cups (300 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 or 5 fresh basil leaves

How to:

1. If desired, purge the eggplant by putting the cubes in a colander and sprinkling the eggplant generously with salt. Put a plate on top to weigh down the eggplant and piace the colander over a bowl to catch the liquid. Let the water drain from the eggplant for 30 to 60 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. (My nonna never did this and all her dishes turned out wonderfully!)
2. Heat ¾ cup (180 ml) of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium­high heat. Add the eggplant in 2 or 3 batches, adding more oil as needed, and fry until golden brown around the edges, 5 to
10 minutes per batch. Transfer the eggplant to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
3. Heat the 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of extra-virgin olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook and stir until it just begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the garlic and discard.
4. Add the tomatoes and a dash of the salt to the garlic-infused oil. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the tomatoes have broken down into a chunky sauce, 5 to 7 minutes.
5. Add the fried eggplant and the basil to the sauté pan. Add the remaining salt and cook and stir for an additional 5 minutes.

Nonna Rosa Says
I sauté the garlic in oil very briefly and remove it. The idea is to just flavor the oil with the essence of the garlic, but you can mince it and leave it in if you prefer.