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 received a hardcover copy, but a paperback version was also released in June.
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. The beautiful photography of the scenery and people of Naples is provided by Hannah Mornement. Many of the recipes are accompanied by full page photos by Frank Wieder of the finished dish.
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 (buffalo mozzarella/fior di latte cheese, fresh squid, carpet shell clams, a variety of fish, spicy salami, anchovy filets, candied citrus peel, ladyfingers- savoiardi, glacé cherries, fava beans, prosciutto, Italian fennel sausages, and octopus).
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 of french toast in grilled cheese form.
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.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Interlink Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Mozzarella in Carrozza (Neapolitan Fried Mozzarella Sandwiches)
Adapted from Cucina Napoletana
24 slices day-old crusty white bread (ciabatta)
12 (1/2 inch thick) slices buffalo mozzarella (or fior di latte)
1/3 cup milk
Light olive oil for shallow frying
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour for coating
Place a slice of mozzarella in the center between two slices of bread. Cut off the edges, allowing a little extra room around the mozzarella. Press down lightly around the edges of the bread to enclose the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining slices.
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs with the milk until light and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper.
In a heavy pan, add about 1/2-1 inch olive oil over medium heat. Cover a plate with a layer of flour. Once the oil is heated, coat all sides of a sandwich in flour, then with the beaten egg mixture. Gently place in the oil and repeat with another sandwich or two, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown, then flip, lightly flatten with a spatula and cook the other side, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a towel-lined plate.
Serve immediately, but be careful- the cheese will be hot!