Cucina Napoletana: 100 Recipes from Italy’s Most Vibrant City, written by Arturo Iengo, features the cuisine of Naples and surrounding Campania. You will find a variety of recipes from Antipasti to Dolci including Cozze al Pepe (Peppered Mussels), Bucatini alla “Settembrini” (Tricolor Pasta), Bocconcini del Prete (Baked Mini Omelettes with Provolone, Ham, and Tomato), Fagiolini Indorati e Fritti (Fried Green Beans), Pane di Noce (Walnut Bread), and Torta Caprese (Chocolate Almond Cake). I will also be featuring his recipe for Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a Carriage) following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Arturo Iengo has lived in Naples since 1975. He is a chef, restauranteur, and professional sommelier. He has worked in many hotels and restaurants including the Ristorante Pascalucci in Benevento and also teaches culinary masterclasses at hotel management schools in Campania.
Chapters are divided based on course: Introduction, Appetizers and Soups (Antipasti, Zuppe e Minestre), Pasta and Rice (Pasta e Riso), Main Courses (Secondi Piatti), Side Dishes (Contorni), Pizza and Bread (Pizza e Pane), and Desserts and Pastries (Dolci).
Before getting to the recipes, Iengo provides an introduction to Naples and Campania and the shaping of the local cuisine. You will also get a closer look at viticulture, olive oil (there are 700 olive oil producers in Campania), cheeses from the Sorrento Peninsula, the introduction of the tomato, traditions surrounding coffee, the origins of pizza, and popular pastries during festivals. According to Iengo, “fresh ingredients are used in simple but flavorful combinations to make the most of what is on hand.” The rich volcanic soil of the region has created a diet that focuses heavily on vegetables, legumes, and pasta. Meat is not as readily available compared to seafood due to the hundreds of miles of coastline.
Every recipe includes a headnote with background information on the dish. The titles are listed in Italian and English. Measurements are provided in US Customary. Hannah Mornement provides the beautiful photography of the scenery and people of Naples. Many of the recipes have full-page photos of the finished dish by Frank Wieder.
This book is a great pick for those interested in the cuisine of Naples. There is a nice variety of dishes from vegetarian to meats, seafoods, and desserts. Recipes range from simple to more complicated. Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American grocery store, but a few may be easier to locate in an Italian grocer or seafood market such as buffalo mozzarella/fior di latte cheese, fresh squid, carpet shell clams, a variety of fish, spicy salami, anchovy filets, candied citrus peel, glacé cherries, fava beans, and prosciutto.
I received the hardcover edition of this book, but a paperback version of Cucina Napoletana was released in June.
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a Carriage)
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a Carriage) are simple mozzarella sandwiches that are coated and fried until golden. These little sandwiches are perfect as an appetizer or snack. They reminded me a bit of a cross between french toast and grilled cheese.
Fresh buffalo mozzarella slices are surrounded by slices of white bread with the crusts removed, coated in flour and an egg mixture, then fried in a shallow layer of olive oil until golden on both sides. The golden crisp crust gives way to melty, stretchy mozzarella. Serve them warm, but be careful with the hot cheese. My son enjoyed dipping them in tomato sauce.
Iengo also offers a couple of variations. Before enclosing the sandwich, you can spread a paste made from 3-4 anchovy filets over one side of the sandwich before adding the mozzarella. You can also add a few chopped oregano or thyme leaves the the egg and milk mixture before coating the bread.
I also made Fusilli con la Ricotta (Fusilli with Ricotta, Tomatoes, and Parmesan), Polpette alla Napoletana (Meatballs in Tomato Sauce), Insulate Caprese (Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad), and Pizza Margherita.
Fusilli con la Ricotta is a simple dish packed with flavor. Plum tomatoes are simmered for an hour with caramelized onions to create a rich sauce, then tossed with fusilli pasta and ricotta cheese. It is finished with some Parmesan and basil. This was a hit for the whole family.
Polpette alla Napoletana are tender meatballs cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Ground beef is combined with soaked bread, parsley, garlic, egg, and cheese. Golden raisins and pine nuts can also be mixed right in. I personally left them out since Claire would be sharing with me and sprinkled them on the top instead. Iengo also includes a variation for Polpettone (meatloaf with prosciutto, scamorza, and parmesan).
Insalata Caprese is a wonderful summer salad from Capri. Slices of tomatoes are layered with mozzarella cheese and drizzled with olive oil. The salad is seasoned simply with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. This is the perfect way to use leftover summer tomatoes with minimal ingredients.
Pizza Margherita is my favorite type of pizza. A basic pizza dough is stretched until thin and topped with drained tomatoes, olive oil, cherry tomatoes, sliced mozzarella cheese, and basil before baking on a pizza stone until crisp. Pizza lovers will also enjoy the Pizza Marinara; Ricotta and Salami Calzone; Spicy Sausage and Potato Pizza; and Pizza with Capers, Olives, and Anchovies.
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Neapolitan Fried Mozzarella Sandwiches) Recipe
Excerpt from Cucina Napoletana
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Mozzarella in a Carriage)
- 24 slices day-old crusty white bread such as ciabatta
- 12 slices buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte cheese about 1/2 inch thick each
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup milk
- Light olive oil for shallow-frying
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- All-purpose flour for coating
- Cut the bread to roughly the same size as the mozzarella slices, allowing a little extra around the edges for the cheese to spread. Sandwich each slice of mozzarella between 2 slices of bread, pressing down lightly around the edges of each one to "seal." Whisk the eggs with the milk until fluffy, and season with salt and black pepper.
- Heat enough oil for shallow-frying (depending on the thickness of your sandwiches) in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Lightly coat each of the little sandwiches in flour, then dip in the beaten egg, allowing the bread to soak up the eggy mixture. Carefully lower the sandwiches into the very hot oil, cooking a few at a time.
- Be careful not to crowd the pan, as the temperature of the oil will drop and your sandwiches will end up soggy, rather than crispy and light. Allow to cook for a few minutes until the cheese starts to melt and the bread is crisp and golden underneath. Using a spatula, turn the sandwiches over and press down. Lightly flatten with the spatula. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels.
- These sandwiches are best piping hot and fresh from the pan, so serve immediately - with a warning about the hot melted cheese inside.