Sauteed Mushrooms

088

Ingredients:

400g closed cup or button mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
10g finely chopped parsley

First and foremost, since there are many varieties of mushrooms, let me clarify that this very simple recipe works well with button and closed cup mushrooms, which are the easiest to find and also the cheapest. Nevertheless, they will give you a fantastic result.

This recipe is truly Italian in its concept, since it achieves a great taste using few ingredients and a very simple process; mushrooms have a very distinctive savouriness, so they do not really need much to be added: just some garlic,parsley if you like it and some salt to enhance the flavour and also to draw out the water:

  1. If necessary trim the stalks
  2. Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt
  3. Slice them (about 3 mm thick)
  4. In a large frying pan or skillet, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil
  5. Sautee the garlic for 1 minute, being careful not to burn it
  6. Add the musrhrooms
  7. Add the salt and stir
  8. The mushrooms will start releasing their water (in general, the better the quality, the less water they release)
  9. Cook on high heat until all the water has evaporated
  10. Turn the heat down and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring to allow even cooking
  11. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley (optional)

093

Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Aubergine bake)

055 Crop

Melanzane alla Parmigiana is an aubergine bake very popular in Italy.Its main ingredients are aubergines, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan.
The standard recipe requires deep fried aubergines – in some parts of Italy aubergines are even coated in beaten egg before being deep fried, resulting in a very tasty dish but also a calory bomb.
I will show here a lighter version of it that uses grilled aubergines instead; furthermore, you can reduce the quantity of mozzarella or even make it without (even if I do not recommend it); you should not eliminate the parmesan though since, like the name suggests, it is what really gives character to this dish.
NOTE: I am describing the process like we are doing it from beginning to the end at once. If you have enough time or can plan in advance, you can also prepare the grilled aubergines and the tomato sauce beforehand and put everything together and bake later.
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Ingredients:

For the Sauce (see also Tomato Sauce  in Basics):

2 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
4 cloves Garlic
Peeled Tomatoes
Basil (about 20 lieaves, or to taste)
Salt & Sugar

For the grilled aubergines (see also Grilled Aubergines in Basics):
1 kg Aubergines
Olive oil, to brish
Salt

250 g Mozzarella, grated
200g Parmesan or Grana cheese, grated
Breadcrumbs (optional), to sprinkle

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First, slice the aubergines, rub them with salt and put them in a colander to purge (see Grilled Aubergines)
Then, make the Tomato Sauce, as in Basic but adding the shredded basil leaves at the end:
Sweat the onion in 2 tbsp olive oil
Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
Add the blended tomatoes, using a fine sieve
Add water
Simmer for 60 minutes
Towards the end, add the basil
Add Salt & sugar

While the sauce is simmering, grill the aubergines:

Pat them dry
Brush with oil on one side
Place in a very hot pan, oiled side down
Brush the upped side with more oil
When the first side is nicely coloured, turn them to cook the other one

When both the sauce and the grilled aubergines are ready, put the ingredients together in the baking tray:
Spread some tomato sauce on the bottom of the tray
Make a layer of grilled aubergines, making sure they slightly overlap each other
Cover with more tomato sauce
Sprinkle with the grated cheese.
Repeat the operation, making more layers until you use all the ingredients
If you like, sprinkle some breadcrumbs on the top
Bake at 180C for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and crispy.

Rest for at least 30 minutes before serving – this dish is actually better if you let it cool down completely and then reheat it