Italian eggplant and tomatoes, or as we call them “Melanzane a Funghetto”, are a typical Neapolitan side dish. It’s an easy, quick and appetizing vegetarian recipe, just like Zucchine alla Scapece!
This simple and appetizing regional dish owes its curious name to the way the eggplant is cut. The small cubes of eggplant, when cooked, take on the appearance of small mushrooms (“funghetto” in Italian).
So, despite the name, mushrooms are not an ingredient in this recipe!
Making Melanzane a Funghetto (“Mulangiane a Fungitiello” in the Neapolitan dialect) is super easy!
All you need to do is fry the eggplants in a pan with plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Then toss them with chopped fresh cherry tomatoes and finish with plenty of fresh basil.
Make sure that the eggplant cubes are as equal in size as possible, so that they cook evenly and golden brown.
You can serve the “mushroom” eggplant either hot or at room temperature. We recommend letting them rest for at least half an hour before bringing them to the table. This will allow the flavors to blend perfectly for an even more delicious end result!
In addition to being a side dish, Italian eggplant and tomatoes are also great on their own as a fresh vegetarian dish. Or serve them as an appetizer or at cocktail hour on crispy bruschetta. You can even use them to top pasta or pizza!
Find out how to make this Italian Eggplant and Tomato recipe by following the step-by-step instructions and tips. Colorful, tasty and versatile, this Neapolitan recipe is sure to be a hit!
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How to Make Italian Eggplant and Tomatoes
- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 20 Min
- Servings: 4
Step 1) – To make Neapolitan Melanzane a Funghetto recipe, first wash the eggplant. Then remove the ends and cut into slices about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick and then into cubes with the skin on.
PLEASE NOTE: For even cooking, try to make cubes of about the same size. The cubes should be small, but not too small. In fact, they should not melt during cooking, but should remain well separated and visible.
Step 2) – Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan. Add the diced eggplant and fry until golden brown.
Drain the eggplant cubes with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels.
Step 3) – Wash and cut the tomatoes into 4 pieces, removing the seeds.
Pour off the excess oil from the pan in which you fried the eggplant. Leaving only a small amount of oil, add the tomatoes and garlic cloves, whole and peeled.
Cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes.
Step 4) – Now remove the garlic and add the fried eggplant cubes. Add salt and a pinch of pepper to taste.
Stir with a wooden spoon and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.
Carefully turn and stir so that it does not become too creamy, but the eggplant and cherry tomatoes are still clearly visible.
Step 5) – When cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the basil leaves, broken up with your hands. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are not in a hurry, let the fried eggplants stewed with tomatoes rest for about 30-40 minutes. This will make them tastier and more flavorful!
Serve the Melanzane a Funghetto on a serving dish and enjoy!
How to Store “Melanzane a Funghetto”
You can store Italian Eggplant and Tomatoes (Melanzane a Funghetto) in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze and consume them within about a month, or store them in sterilized jars (see below).
In this way, you will always have this amazing Neapolitan side dish recipe available throughout the year, even when eggplants are out of season!
How to Sterilize Jars to Store Italian Eggplant and Tomatoes
Step 1) – Take a rather large pot, fill it with cold water, then put a kitchen towel on the bottom.
Get hold of some glass jars with vacuum seal button lids. Open and immerse them in the cold water. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil. This way you’ll sterilize the glass jars.
Step 2) – After about 15 minutes from the boiling, remove them with kitchen tongs (which you left a few minutes immersed in boiling water to sterilize).
Put the jars to cool on a kitchen towel. That done, you can start pouring the Italian sautéed eggplant inside.
We suggest storing the jars in a cool, dry place, away from heat sources.
After opening the jar, it’s also preferable to store it in the refrigerator and consume it within a few days. Make sure the eggplants are always covered with the oil.
How to Serve Italian Sautéed Eggplant with Tomatoes
Italian Eggplant and Tomatoes or Melanzane a Funghetto as we call this recipe, is a traditional Neapolitan side dish. It’s usually prepared during the summer when both eggplant and tomatoes are at their best.
You can serve this authentic southern Italian side dish with both meat and fish. It is also often served with eggs and cheese.
Melanzane a funghetto is a very versatile dish that can be used in other ways, especially when prepared in large quantities.
PASTA: You can use sauteed eggplant with tomatoes to season pasta. You can even enrich it! For example, you can add a few slices of ricotta salata or parmigiano, sliced olives and pickled capers to have a delicious and tasty pasta sauce in just a few minutes!
BRUSCHETTA: Melanzane a Funghetto are also ideal for a tasty bruschetta, maybe made with slices of homemade bread. Add some stracciatella cheese on top and you’ve got a great antipasto!
PIZZA: They are also a wonderful topping for pizza, either together with mozzarella or just with the tomato sauce for a totally vegetarian version.
Melanzane a Funghetto WITHOUT Tomatoes
There is also a tomato-free version of the Melanzane a Funghetto recipe.
In this version, the eggplant is diced and then cooked in a frying pan with oil, garlic and basil. Parsley is often used in the tomato-free version.
The eggplant is steamed rather than fried.
Pine nuts, olives or capers are often added to this version.
Italian Eggplant and Tomatoes (NO Frying)
If you want to make this recipe in a light version, you may not fry the eggplant chunks.
Arrange the eggplant chunks on the baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Season with salt, garlic (pierced with a toothpick, if not you will confuse it with the eggplant) and a drizzle of oil and bake at 180°C (350°F) for about 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and add tomatoes stewed in a pan with very little oil.
Bake for a few minutes, just long enough to mix the ingredients well and serve.