radu-adrian popescu guitars in the kitchen


Melanzane alle acciughe e olive

Melanzane alle acciughe e olive

Here's another(!) aubergine stew, the inspiration for which came to me the other day. I'm going to follow this up with a pairing of aubergines and pancetta - but there's something still missing in that combination, so it's not ready yet.


  • 4 good looking aubergines, about 1Kg
  • soffritto:
    • 2 shallots
    • 6 salted, oil-preserved anchovy fillets
    • 5 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • 1 glass of Noilly Prat or white wine
  • 400g tomatoes - fresh or canned, I use canned Mutti San Marzano
  • 150g pitted black olives (my favourite are from Taggia, Liguria)
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 75g heavy cream (30%) (optional)
  • herbs:
    • handful of flat leaf parsley



Just like the first stew, this is cooked in an iron-cast pot.

Mise en place

Cube three of the aubergines roughly (2 cm) and the other one rather finely (1/4 cm) - these will practically melt away while cooking, adding to the richness of the sauce. Salt generously and leave to rest until they sweat profusely - 10 minutes or so, and then shake off the moisture and drain them (I use a large plastic colander).

Slice the shallots, finely mince the anchovies, and finely chop 4 of the garlic cloves, reserving one. Roughly chop the parsley leaves and mix with the remaining garlic clove, minced.

Have the stock ready and heated.


Slowly sauté the shallot, anchovies and garlic for a few minutes, stirring frequently and making sure not to burn (brown) the garlic.

Turn up the heat and deglaze with the vermouth or wine.

Add the tomatoes; if whole, break them apart. Add the olives and the stock, ground pepper and peperoncini flakes, stir well and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, so that the aromatic components of the sauce have time to flavour it well before adding the aubergines. The basic taste of the dish is established here.

Note: be generous with the peperoncini if adding cream at the end. Taste for salt after the sauce is cooked, as the anchovy fillets are very salty.

Add the aubergines and toss to coat in the sauce completely, then simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour (check the texture to decide when it's done), gently stirring the aubergines around and from top to bottom a couple of times to make sure they're all evenly cooked.


Turn off the heat and blend in the parsley and minced garlic, and, if using, the cream. Leave a few minutes to rest and serve. The dish is significantly better the next day since the aubergines have had time to infuse further with the aromas of the sauce.


Next: → Aubergine stew

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