The cooking of Puglia, the region that encompasses the ‘heel’ of the Italian peninsula on the Adriatic Sea, deserves to be much better known. It practically defines the Mediterranean diet, with a strong focus on simply prepared fruits of the sea and fresh produce like fava beans, cime di rape and eggplant. Puglia produces some of the best olive oil in Italy, of the deep green, fruity kind, which is used with abandon in the region’s dishes.
1 medium eggplant
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic
A handful of parsley
Salt and pepper
Bread crumbs (as much as needed)
Olive oil for frying
Roast the eggplant, whole and unpeeled, in a hot (200°C/400°F) oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven and let it cool a bit. Skin the eggplant and place the flesh into a food processor. (If you find the flesh is watery, gently squeeze out the excess liquid with some paper towels.) Add the remaining ingredients (other than the bread crumbs) and process until well amalgamated and fairly smooth.
Then, spoonful by spoonful, and using the pulse function on your processor, mix in bread crumbs until the mixture holds together into a soft but workable paste. (Use only as much as you need, no more.)
Take a bit of the mixture at a time, form little ‘meatballs’. Shallow fry the meatballs in olive oil, or a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil, until golden brown on all sides.