3 large eggplants, cut lengthwise into slices ½ inch (1 cm) thick, 3/4 cup (180 ml) olive oil
Tomato Sauce:1 onion, finely chopped,2 garlic cloves, chopped,2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil,1 can (28 oz/796 ml) crushed tomatoe
Toppings;12 basil leaves, torn ,1 ½ cups (150 g) mozzarella cheese,grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Place the first rack in the lowest position of the oven and the second in the middle position. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the eggplant slices on the baking sheets and brush with the oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15 minutes or until tender.
Tomato Sauce
Meanwhile, in a pot, soften the onion and garlic in the oil. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cover the bottom of a 13 x 9-inch (33 x 23 cm) baking dish with ½ cup (125 ml) of the tomato sauce. Top with one-third of the eggplant slices. Cover with 1 cup (250 ml) of the tomato sauce and 4 basil leaves. Sprinkle with ½ cup (50 g) of the mozzarella and ¼ cup (20 g) of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is golden. Serve with grilled pork chops, pan-seared veal cutlets or store-bought roasted chicken, if desired

                                               "TAIEDDRHA", rice, potatoes and mussels

                                                                  (makes 4 servings.)


300 gr. Carnaroli rice, 500 gr. waxy potatoes,1 Kg.mussels ,1 garlic clove ,onion, parsley, extra virgin olive oil,salt,pepper, grated pecorino cheese or parmesan ,cherry tomatoes


Clean and brush well the mussels in abundant water, put them in a pan with minced garlic and let them open over medium heat. Remove the shells and filter their liquid. Clean, peel and cut into thin slices; put half of them on the bottom of a pot, already greased with oil, season them with pepper, parsley and minced onion. Add the mussels,cover all with rice and the chopped tomatoes and other potatoes ;sprinkle with cheese. Add some pepper and oil, cover with mussels' cooking water as well. Place the pan into the oven at 120 C and cook for about 45 minutes. You don't need to salt them because the cooking water of the mussels is already salted. Once cooked transfer to a serving dish and serve.
NB: it's possible add zucchini and you can leave the mussels in their shell

                            PITTA DI PATATE ​


500 g potatoes , 100 g  pecorino cheese or parmisan cheese, 1 egg , bread crumbs ,2 peeled tomatoes , onion, capers, black olives, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil , salt and pepper baking paper


Boil the potatoes, mash them until you obtain a potato puree. Add the grated parmesan, salt, pepper, egg, extra virgin olive oil and a bit of bread crumbs. Mix all the ingredients together.Cover an oven tray with baking paper, add a spoon of olive oil and add half of the puree.Fry the onion in a pan and add olives, tomatoes chopped finely, capers and anchovies. Once ready, add the ‘soffritto’ to the puree and cover with the other half of the potato mix.Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and place in the oven, 180°C for approximately 30/40 minutes. Ready to serve, hot or cold.

NB: many housewives from Salento use to stuff the "pitta", adding in the middle: mortadella, cooked ham, caciocavallo cheese.

                                                PEPERONI AL FORNO  

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 peppers (green and red),2 cloves of garlic, sliced , 2 tbsps capers . 6 anchovy fillets chopped, 8 tbsps breadcrumbs extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (mint)


Place the peppers in a hot oven for about half an hour until the skins start to blacken. Take out, leave to cool and then peel off the skins. Chop the peppers into strips, about 2 inches wide. Grease the bottom of an oven tray with olive oil and start layering the peppers. On the top of each layer throw in a few capers, a few slices of garlic, some of the chopped anchovy fillets, a sprinkle of bread crumbs and a little salt and pepper. When the top layer is finished, drizzle with olive oil and one last layer of breadcrumbs. Then place in a hot over for about 15-20 minutes, until the peppers are soft and succulent. It is excellent as a hot side dish to lamb or chicken, or can be served cool as part of a mixed platter of antipasti.
NB You can replace the anchovy fillets with mint



4 artichokes 200 grams flour 2 eggs ½ cup of sparkling white wine (or beer) 1 lemon ,salt, to taste olive oil for frying


Wash artichokes carefully.Remove hard outer leaves of the artichokes and the tips of the remaining leaves
Soak artichokes in water and lemon juice for a few minutes.
Cut artichokes in wide lengthwise slices and dry them carefully. Mix the flour, wine, egg yolks, a pinch of salt and, if necessary, a few teaspoonfuls of water to render the batter more fluid. Next, add the whipped egg whites.
Heat oil in large frying pan. Dip the artichoke slices first in the batter, then in the hot oil. When golden, remove the artichokes from the oil with a slotted spoon and set them on a plate lined with blotting paper to absorb the excess oil.
Serve hot.
NB You can fry with peanut oil. The ideal temperature is 175 ° C although a temperature between 160 ° C - 180 ° C is ok.You can replace the wine with sparkling water or whipped egg whites

                                                              RUSTICO LECCESE (TOMATO AND MOZZARELLA PASTRY


2 sheets puff pastry (about 500 grams) 1/2 cup tomato sauce,1/2 cup bechamel sauce, cold ,1/2 cup mozzarella, grated,1 egg, separated , salt and pepper, for seasoning


Using a cookie cutter or any round plate, cut circles from the puff pastry. Five of them would be 12 to13 cm, while the remaining five would be slightly smaller, 11 to 12 cm.
Place bigger circles of dough on a baking pan with a baking sheet. Brush the top side of each dough with egg white.
At the center of the circle, place a small amount (about 1 to 1 & ½ tsp) of béchamel sauce, 1 tsp of tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated mozzarella. Add a dash of salt and pepper, if desired. Place the smaller circle of dough on top of the mixture, making sure that the mixture stays in the middle of the circle. Close the edges of the smaller circle of dough and place the baking pan in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 200°C/375°F. Once oven is ready, take the baking pan out of the refrigerator and brush the pastry with egg white.Place in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry has turned