This recipe comes from a family friend called Salvatore Veltini, in Ragusa. Ragusa is on the southern tip of the island and was a Norman stronghold that became a fief of the Cabrera dynasty. This recipe is so simple and utterly delicious. I am a stickler for salting aubergines – it’s a family thing! It also means that the aubergine will fry better, absorb less oil and have a superior flavour.
Aubergine and Pomegranate Salad
Insalata di melanzane e melograno
2 medium aubergines, cut lengthways into 4mm-thick slices
3 tbsp olive oil
grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1½ tbsp white wine vinegar
1½ tbsp good-quality extra virgin olive oil
a handful of mint, roughly chopped
a handful of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, seeded
100g pecorino (soft or firm)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle the aubergine slices with salt. Weigh down and leave for 15 minutes. Remove and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan and fry the aubergine slices. Choose a ridged pan if you can, as the aubergine looks far more attractive this way.
Mix the lemon zest and juice, garlic, vinegar and good oil, then mix this dressing with the aubergine, and scatter with the chopped herbs, pomegranate seeds and pecorino. If using soft pecorino, place it in dollops; if firm, scatter shavings.
Extracted from Cucina Siciliana by Ursula Ferrigno (Ryland Peters & Small, approx €19). Photography by David Munns.