The late summer leading into fall is a great time for fruits and vegetables. The markets are overflowing with fresh local treats like melanzane (eggplants, aubergines). These plump deep-purple colored vegetables draw your attention just begging to be taken home, but many people steer clear for the simple fact that they don’t know what to do with them. Here in Calabria, there are many delicious dishes prepared with melanzane that you’ll find served up as an antipasto or part of a traditional Sunday lunch:
Here are three of our favorite dishes starring melanzane:
1. Parmigiana di Melanzane (Eggplant Parmesan)
Without a doubt a household favorite that will have you asking for seconds and quite possibly thirds. Recipes vary, but it’s essentially fried eggplant that is baked in an oven with cheese and tomato sauce – kind of like lasagna but without the pasta. And if by slim chance you have leftovers, don’t worry, it’s just as good reheated the next day!
2. Polpette di Melanzane (Eggplant Fritters or Croquettes)
In Calabria, we make fritters out of just about anything – rice, meat, potatoes and yes you guessed it, eggplant. These round or oblong-shaped fritters are really simple to make and use very few ingredients – the inside part of the eggplant, egg, parsley, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs. These yummy finger foods are commonly served up as part of an antipasto or apericena! They are so good you won’t be able to stop at just one.
3. Melanzane Sott’Olio (Pickled Eggplant under Oil)
Many a Calabrian kitchen holds jars of this, a wonderful companion for crusty Italian bread which is normally served as part of an antipasto or light meal! Once again, there are different versions – some like to keep it simple while others add crushed hot peppers. It’s the best way to enjoy the wonderful taste of melanzane all year round.