Eggplant pillows (cuscini di melanzane)
This is one of my all-time favourite Calabrese dishes. Like much of southern Italy’s food it’s vegetarian, but the rich, delicate flavours are just remarkable.
Preparation time 20 mins Cooking time 25 mins
2 medium eggplants, ends trimmed,
thinly sliced lengthways Sea-salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to season
½ cup gluten-free flour
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup smooth ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
2 Tbsp raisins, chopped
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
6 anchovy fillets, chopped (optional) 3 free-range egg yolks
½ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup finely chopped mint leaves Juice of 1 lemon
2 cups tomato passata
Shaved parmesan, basil leaves and crusty bread, to serve
STEP 1 Season both sides of eggplant slices with salt and pepper, then dust with flour, shaking off any excess.
STEP 2 Heat oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Cook eggplant in 3 batches, for 1–2 minutes each side or until golden. Drain on paper towel. Wipe pan clean and set aside.
STEP 3 Combine ricotta, parmesan, raisins, pine nuts, anchovies (if using), egg yolks, parsley, mint and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season to taste.
STEP 4 Lay eggplant slices on a large board. Put a heaped tablespoon of ricotta mixture into centres. Fold over sides of eggplant to enclose and make pillows.
STEP 5 Pour half the passata over the base of clean pan. Arrange eggplant pillows on top. Top with remaining passata. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 minutes or until bubbling. STEP 6 Top with shaved parmesan and basil leaves. Serve with crusty bread.