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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with tomatoes

07Aug 12

Aubergine Parmigiana

Aubergine Parmigiana
Aubergine Parmigiana
or La Parmigiana Melanzane originates from the beautiful coastal province of Puglia, set in the heel of Italy. It’s a great way to serve up aubergines, layering them with tomato and cheese, almost like the classic lasagne, minus the pasta.

Serve with fresh garlic bread and a rocket salad. Perfect accompanied with a classic northern Italian red wine, such as Villa Casetta – Barbera d’Alba. Divino!

Aubergine Parmigiana
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
A delicious, warming aubergine dish layered with cheese and tomato
  • olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes, or 500g of fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4-5 leaves of shredded basil
  • 2 medium aubergines
  • 1 ball Buffalo Mozzarella, sliced
  • Splash of wine vinegar
  • Handful of Parmesan cheese
  • Handful of dried breadcrumbs
  • Pinch of dried oregano
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 180ºC.
  2. If you use fresh tomatoes, which will be sweeter if they are in season, you first need to de-skin them. Prick the skins and put them in a pan of boiling water for 40-50 seconds. Spoon them out and drop them into a bowl of cold water. Leave for 30 seconds, then remove their skins. Cut up the flesh, removing the seeds.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan. Add the garlic, onion and dried oregano and gently cook for 7-8 minutes until the onion is soft and the garlic turns a golden brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes and cinnamon and simmer for around 15 minutes until you have a thickened sauce. Season with the basil, wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Remove the cinnamon stick.
  5. Whilst the tomato sauce is simmering, slice the aubergines lengthways about 1cm thick. Brush both sides with oil and a little salt. Pan fry or chargrill, turning a few times until tender. It's important to get the aubergine as tender as possible, so give it time, but don’t burn them! Put them to one side.
  6. Now take an ovenproof dish and spoon a layer of the sauce in the bottom of the dish, cover with aubergine and then the Mozzarella. Repeat 3 or 4 times and finish with a thin layer of tomato sauce.
  7. Sprinkle with Parmesan and breadcrumbs and bake for 30-40 minutes until the dish is bubbling and the Parmesan and breadcrumbs are golden brown.


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05Apr 12

Penne alla arrabbiata

Penne alla arribbiataFirst of all, I would like to explain this dish’s name. Literally, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’, and ‘penne’ is a type of pasta. Directly translated, it means ‘angry pasta’! This ‘anger’ comes from the use of chilli peppers in the recipe that makes the dish so hot, furiously filling your tastebuds with spicy goodness. So, when preparing this dish, use as much chilli as you like, depending on how “angry” you want your pasta to be. (For another recipe with hot red chilli peppers, try this bonfire bean chilli.)

Although many may flinch at the thought of how spicy chilli peppers can be, they are really healthy. One benefit is the large amount of Vitamin C it has. Did you know that a chilli pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? And only 50g can provide over half of your recommended daily vitamin C intake. Not too shabby!

This recipe is originally from Rome, and you might like to know that it has many different versions. Some of them actually have nothing to do with the traditional recipe, so, if you can, stick to the following ingredients and you will enjoy the taste of the original Roman arrabbiata.


  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 dried red chilli peppers (roughly chopped)
  • 300g chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 200g penne pasta


1. Chop the garlic and peppers.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (medium heat) and add the chopped garlic and chilli into the pan.
3. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden in colour.
4. When the garlic has turned golden, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
5. Then season with salt, and stir again for a few seconds.
6. Cook on medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes to reduce the sauce.
7. A few minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan containing the sauce.
8. Stir for a few seconds to coat the pasta with the sauce. Do this when the pan is still on the heat.
9. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
10. Give a quick stir and serve immediately.

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14Feb 12

Lamb and Linguine Bolognese

Lamb and Linguine BologneseWhilst respecting culinary tradition, we young Italians also enjoy coming up with our own variations of classic themes. I’m a linguine-lover: there’s that little extra bite with linguine, and if you’re crazy about pasta, these small things matter! I also make a salmon linguine dish, but I made this dish with lamb mince and a chili punch.



• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 15-20g butter
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)
• 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)
• 1 finely chopped fiery red chili (seeds removed)
• 1 small (or 1/2 large) onion, chopped finely
• 1 stick of celery, sliced very finely
• 200-250g minced lamb
• 1 large glass robust red wine
• 1 200g tin of chopped tomatoes or 250/300g fresh tomatoes, chopped
Note: for a fuller flavour, use 250/300g fresh tomatoes – blanched in boiled water, peeled, and then pressed through a sieve to remove seeds
• 300ml lamb stock
• 200g linguine
• salt and pepper
• freshly grated Parmesan – as much or as little as you like!


1 – Heat the oil and butter in a large heavy-based pan and add the onion, celery and bay leaf. Stir continuously over low heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions become softened and slightly transparent. Add the meat, season with salt and pepper, and cook gently until all the flesh has browned.

2 – Add the wine (and balsamic vinegar), bring to a boil, and simmer between 10-20 minutes, until the wine has reduced significantly. Add the tomatoes and chilli (and nutmeg). This is the long part: simmer very, very gently between 1-4 hours. Be sure to check regularly, adding the stock as necessary, 50ml or 100ml at a time, to prevent the sauce drying out and sticking to the pan.

3 – As the meat reaches the end of its cooking time, prepare the pasta. Bring the water to the boil, add a pinch of salt, and cook until al dente. Drain the linguine, reserving a small cup of the cooking liquid. Mix the pasta and meat sauce together, adding a little of the pasta liquid to help the sauce coat the linguine nicely. Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and the remains of that robust red wine.

Serves 2

Time Up to 4 hours – 15 mins prep, 1-4 hrs cooking (the longer you can leave the sauce cooking, the richer and better combined the flavours will be.)

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant


Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.