Ingredient of the Month: Aubergines!
Aubergines are in season!
Well, to be fair, this probably applies to a mediterranean climate, where aubergines, peppers and courgettes give their best in the period between August and September.
It’s a vegetable that needs lots of sun and warm temperatures to grow big and flavoursome, and that isn’t exactly typical of the British weather.
Aubergines though, are a staple of the Italian cuisine, and some of the most famously known dishes worldwide are indeed aubergine-based – I mean, hello, Parmigiana? ?
In Italy, melanzane are typical of the southern regions, where they appear in regional recipes more than in the north – although the northerners have acquired some of these dishes because they’re just too good.
Originally from India, aubergines are known to be il frutto della salute, the fruit of a healthy life. In fact they not only are mostly made of water and have very few calories, but also they have anti-inflammatory and depurative properties and help to fight cholesterol too. Anyone should definitely be eating more of these little wonders!
Aubergines come in many colours and shapes, from bright purple to pitch black, long and thin or round like a ball – let’s get to know some of them more.
The Classic: it’s the most popular one, and used in many dishes, but it’s great just grilled and seasoned with a bit of olive oil, salt and garlic.
Violetta Seta – literally violet silk, has an oval shape and a slightly different shade of violet. the pulp is very tasty and it’s very versatile, can be used in pasta alla norma, fried, stuffed, as parmigiana, but it’s particularly good if you want to try and make melanzane sott’olio.
Zebrina Viola – or the “purple zebra”, if we were to translate its name from the Italian version. It is a pretty apt choice considering its peculiar striped body. Use this variety to make a killer Caponata.
Violetta di Firenze: a variety from Florence, as the name says. this aubergine has a rounded shape, unusual compared to the previous ones and it’s the one you’d want to use for parmigiana, even for a white Parmigiana.
Rossa di Rotonda: It looks like a tomato but it is an aubergine indeed! It’s typical of the Basilicata region, in the south of Italy, where they use it to prepare Melanzane sott’olio, pickled aubergines in oilve oil.
Bianca: the white aubergine. Not too unusual in Italy, but super rare in the UK. It has a delicate flavour best when fried.
And now, since we’ve mentioned some of the MOST DELICIOUS traditional Italian dishes above, let’s get down to business and talk recipes and ingredients!
CLICK on RECIPE to discover these tasty dishes from the Sicilian culinary tradition:
- Parmigiana di Melanzane – Aubergine Parmigiana – RECIPE
- Caponata di Melanzane – Aubergine Relish – RECIPE
- Melanzane Sott’olio – Pickled Aubergines in Olive Oil – RECIPE
- Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with Aubergines and Ricotta Salata – RECIPE
Come try our PARMIGIANA, it’s the bomb!