Yearning for a taste of Italy?
The Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant, located in the Amalfi Coast region of Italy, about one hour from Naples, is known for “ethical gastronomy” with its longtime emphasis on organic local food and nuovo twists on traditional southern Italian cuisine.
The Iaccarino restaurant family has recently opened restaurants in Macao, Marrakesh and New Zealand, and its famous founding chef, Alfonso Iaccarino, now travels the world preaching about the proven health benefits of the organic Mediterranean diet.
So, it makes sense the Don Alfonso 1890 would establish a cooking school to help spread the word about its delicious and healthy gastronomy, one eager group at a time.
In the classes that I took in Italy (see A Novice Turns ‘Chef’ at Don Alfonso 1890 Cooking School), we learned nine yummy Don Alfonso recipes; more than a few of them used the restaurant’s unusually tasty tomato sauce made from their farm’s Vesuvio plum tomatoes, which grow especially sweet and juicy in the volcanic soil of the region.
The fried Eggplant Parmesan alla Don Alfonso recipe below is one of the simplest of the recipes we learned, one I plan to make again soon. (If you want the Don Alfonso taste, look for organic extra-virgin olive oil and the region’s San Marzano canned tomatoes in your grocery store for the base of your tomato sauce.)
Eggplant Parmesan alla Don Alfonso
400 g/14 oz eggplants
100 g/3.5 oz mozzarella cheese
100 g/3.5 oz tomato sauce
20 g/.7 oz basil
2 dl/.85 cup extra virgin olive oil
1) Cut the eggplant into thin slices and fry them in hot olive oil and drain on paper towels.
2) Slice the mozzarella into thin rounds.
3) In each of four ceramic dishes with straight sides, alternate two slices of eggplant with a similar-sized slice of mozzarella, a pinch of chopped basil, a pinch of parmesan cheese and a dollop of tomato sauce. Continue layering, repeating the sequence five more times.
(Note: In our cooking class, for timing and ease, we did not use ceramic dishes, but rather quickly pinned the stacks together with toothpicks, and we only did a three-layer sequence. That’s how I plan to make these in the future.)
4) Bake in a preheated 180 C (350 F) oven for approx. 10 minutes.
Nap each dish with warm tomato sauce, center the eggplant stack and decorate with a basil leaf and pieces of fried eggplant.
I later found this book on the cooking-class shelves, and was impressed to see what the restaurant’s dinnertime Eggplant Parmesan dish really looks like.