Eggplant in a Mushroom's Clothing


Eggplant often falls apart when it is sautéed, but in this preparation for bruschetta with melanzane al fungho, "eggplant cooked in the style of mushrooms," small pieces of eggplant retain their shape, browning on the outside and cooking completely through to the center. The pieces of eggplant never end up looking much like the mushrooms promised in the name of the recipe. Rather, the mushroom is more of a metaphor for how the eggplant remains in small, seperate pieces while sautéing, akin to how little mushrooms might be cooked.

The key step in preparing the eggplant and obtaining the metaphorical mushroom effect is to cook it in a single layer in the pan and let it brown without stirring. The recipe, from Mario Batali, actually indicates that you should stir it. However, in the original episode of the television porgram, which I saw, Mr. Batali made the point that the eggplant should be left alone so that it retains its form and does not break up. Once it has cooked completely on one side, flip the pieces over carefully so that they do not fall apart.

The recipe and method are open to variations. In the above example, I added a few drops of balsamic vinegar to add some acidity and additional flavor.

With the concentration of olive oil in the eggplant as it cooks, this is a very rich topping for bruschetta, and it makes for a filling meal accompanied by a salad.



The recipe seems like a variation of "Melanzane a funghetto", a Neapolitan cooking classic (including fried aubergines and a tomato olive sauce). The name in that case refers (depending on the source you read) either to the way the aubergines are cut, i.e. small dice instead of the classic slices found in many Neapolitan dishes, or to the sauce the aubergines come with, which used to be a sauce for mushrooms. The idea that the aubergines should actually look like mushrooms is new to me.
P.S. I really like the photos and stories you post. This is a great site!


Hi Alberto,

Unfortunately, the only information I gathered about the dish was from an episode of Mario Batali's "Molto Mario" show, and he only briefly explained the story about how the preparation of the eggplant gets its name. If I remember this right, he seemed to say that the name comes from the fact that they are cut into small cubes (as you describe) and because they take on the texture of a cooked mushroom, to some degree. I'll have to look out for this episode again to confirm.

I really like the texture and flavor that you end up with in this preparation.

Thanks for the comments on this site.

You have a great site ( I am particularly impressed with those baci di dama. You might be interested to know that I am planning to make some potato pancakes this weekend that are actually based on the Kartoffelpuffer you wrote about earlier.


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