Grandma’s Aubergine Stew

Italians love preserving summer fruits and storing them for the winter months: from fruit and vegetable jellies, jams and compotes to tomato canning; from pickling to drying and salting, the food history of the peninsula is studded with recipes to store and maintain food and to make it available all year around.

My grandma, age 92, is no exception. As far as I remember, she has always made preserves in the summertime, with the vegetables from her own garden. It is simply something she does without asking herself any questions: the abundance of food spurs her to make conserve (preserves, in Italian). She has always been more about the vegetable than the fruit ones, so home-made jams weren’t really part of our traditions as much as tomato sauce and other vegetable preserves.

My absolute favourite is her salsa di melanzane (aubergine sauce) – a mix of aubergine, green bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, stewed together in some oil at very low heat for a while until all the vegetables fall apart and a creamy, chunky sauce is formed. 

The recipe calls for 2 kg of diced aubergines, 5/6 green bell peppers, diced as well, 1 big yellow onion, chopped, 6 very ripe San Marzano tomatoes and 2 garlic cloves.

Place aubergine, then peppers, then tomato, onion and garlic in a big pan. Season with some salt, then add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Set the pan over low-medium heat and cook until very tender, stirring often to avoid vegetables from sticking to the bottom. When they are soft and creamy, remove the pan from the heat. Let cool down whatever you want to eat immediately or in the next days.

For longer preserving, transfer the still hot sauce into sterilised mason jars, close with lids and place them a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes, then remove from the heat. Let the jars cool completely in the pan, then remove them from the water. You can store them for several months in a dry, cool and dark place.




  1. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen August 13, 2012

    it's so fun! every time I think about summer, I cannot help but considering again the story of the and and the grasshopper (a cicada, in our tradition!).
    I am without any doubt an ant, I love preserving food, and thinking at the upcoming cold months, it's one of the pleasures of summer for me!
    Lovely post, as usual! x

  2. Regula @ Miss foodwise August 13, 2012

    Lovely post Valeria, so funny I also posted my family recipe for preserving food this week. Seems we were all preserving things at the same time, well august is the month for it! Really love the Italian Table talks, very informative. Your sauce looks delicious!

  3. ilgamberorusso August 13, 2012

    Che bella questa ricetta, per me è una novità la salsa di melanzane in barattolo mi è venuta una gran curiosità di provare e penso il merito sia anche della tua presentazne, io in genere adoro le ricette di famiglia quelle in cui i segreti si tramandano e si perfezionano nel tempo 🙂 è sempre un piacere Valeria!

  4. foodchik August 14, 2012

    Hi Valeria.
    This looks delicious. I am definitely going to make it, but I have a question: are the tomatoes and the garlic to be chopped, or are they put in whole?

    • Valeria August 16, 2012

      They have to be chopped, too! Glad you liked it!

  5. Claudia Annie Amore Vero August 16, 2012

    congratulations, you have a wonderful blog! I will follow you now! kisses!

  6. thelittleloaf August 17, 2012

    What a gorgeous post. I always get caught up in the joy of summer and sometimes forget about the harder months to come – I think it's important to take stock and enjoy the present and the future, and what better way than with this gorgeous preserve.


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