AUBERGINE (EGGPLANT) WITH PARMESAN.
Originally a Napolitan dish, but very popular around Rome too, this rich and satisfying dish is enjoyed best served at room temperature.
ingredients & method
approx 8 medium tomatoes - ripe but firm and roughly chopped
1 large carrot - roughly chopped
1/2 small onion - finely chopped
a handful of fresh & washed basil leaves
olive oil - approx 1-2 tbs
salt - a sprinkle (half a handful of course sea salt)
Place all of the above into a large saucepan and heat until the carrots are soft and the tomatoes have become a sort of cream (takes approx 45-60 mins). Gradually pass the mixture through a tomato press (passa pomodoro) into a bowl and it should resemble a thick-ish tomato sauce. Leave to one side while you prepare the aubergines. If you don't have a tomato press use a food blender but sieve to remove any lumps. This sauce can also be prepare in advance.
5-6 medium/large long shaped aubergine - firm to the touch and hopefully not full of seeds! There's nothing wrong with the seeds but they spoil the enjoyment of eating! if your aubergines have seeds cut them out and discard, keeping only the smooth parts.
sunflower oil for frying
grated parmesan - to taste! We used about 70g
optional mozzarella - to taste! We didn't use any this time.
Prepare kitchen towel on top of baking foil (saves time clearing up afterwards). Remove the outer skin of the aubergines and slice thinly. Gradually fry until golden and lay out on the kitchen roll to soak up excess oil.
Next take an oven-proof dish (or one of those disposable foil ones) and start layering:
tomato sauce - aubergine - parmesan (& mozzarella) - and so on, until all the aubergine has been used (If there is any sauce left over it can be used as a pasta sauce the next day).
Finally finish the top layer with more parmesan and bake at 190° for about 10 minutes (just enough time to melt the cheese). Serve at room temperature with wholesome farmhouse bread!
LENTIL SOUP OF VENTOTENE ISLAND.
Although less of a soup, more of a pottage.
In any case it's very tasty, very healthy and very quick to make!
You can change quantities to suit your own palate but this is the traditional version:
350g Lentils from Ventotene (no need to pre-soak).
2 cloves of garlic - thinly sliced.
1 large stick of celery - chopped.
approx 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil - we like the flavour of olive oil from Itri.
4-5 tomatoes from Ventotene (we didn't have these so we used those long ones (from Latina).
fresh basil leaves - washed & ripped up.
chilli pepper - to taste (we used powdered but you can use fresh).
salt - to taste.
AN EXTREMELY SIMPLE & HEALTHY DISH.
Zucchini (courgettes) are a Summer season vegetable so they're ideal for this cold dish.
I know we said we'd stick to all things "Lazio" and this is a Napolitan dish, but it's so refreshing & tasty we thought you wouldn't mind (and my adopted Italian family does have some Napolitan roots).
When choosing your zucchini make sure they have a good colour (as in photo below) and are firm, not bendy. Wash, top & tail before you start.