Melanzane in Potacchio (Italian Eggplant stew) is a simple but surprisingly tasty recipe from the Marche region in Italy. It is a side dish that can be prepared in advance and can be enjoyed cold or warm. Definitely one of my favorite eggplant stew recipes.
Melanzane (eggplant in Italian), is one of the most beloved vegetables in the Italian Peninsula. There are many reasons to love it: it is cheap, is versatile, has a great texture, plays along with virtually any flavor, and provides a delicate and distinctive texture to dishes.
For this Eggplant Stew recipe (you only need very simple ingredients, three vegetables, and one herb! That’s it!
The stewed eggplant reminds us of a lot of the Catalonian Escalivada recipe, also on this site. But this dish is made quicker and doesn’t require an oven, just a saucepan!
This Italian eggplant recipe is very similar to our 3-ingredient pasta sauce, but this dish is less “saucy,” and you can serve it in various ways. It is one of those vegan eggplant dishes that was born this way! If you are into simple delicious treats, don't forget to have a look at our Pasta alla Puttanesca.
Two years ago, when Joaquin came to Italy to do his citizenship paperwork, he lived in Le Marche. A region that is best known for its beaches in cities like Rimini and Ancona. But Le Marche also has a great Enogastronomy (food and wine tourism).
This is how we first got to taste this dish, another queen in the realm of Italian Cuisine’s simplicity.
You need just a handful of ingredients for this vegan stew recipe. It is undoubtedly the simplest of all Italian eggplant dishes.
- Italian Eggplant (or any purple variety)
Extra virgin olive oil and salt.
See the recipe card for quantities.
The cooking method is mind-blowing simple, and very few ingredients are enough. Let's explore this vegan eggplant recipe together.
Chop the eggplant, tomatoes and mince the garlic. You can make it eggplant slices or dice.
Slightly cook the eggplant until golden brown.
Add the rest of the ingredients. Garlic, tomatoes,rosemary, and optionally olive oil and salt.
Stir once or twice and let the stew cook for 20 minutes over low heat, with the lid on.
Remove from the heat, and let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving.
This is probably the simplest Vegan Vegetable Stew you will find out there! And probably also the most authentic!
How to Serve
You can serve this Italian Eggplant Stew in several ways. Most Italian eggplant recipes call for cheese, not this one, as it packs lots of flavor on its own!
- Main dish – serve a larger portion along with baked potatoes or steamed rice.
- Side – next to your dish of choice, such as this simple Romanesco Broccoli.
- Appetizer – serve it with your favorite Focaccia or Pagnotta bread as a Spanish Tapa at room temperature. You can alternatively use pita bread, for this absolutes delicious meal.
Top with fresh parsley.
- Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet – omit olive oil and salt. The method doesn’t change.
- Herbs – use fresh basil or oregano instead of rosemary.
- Garlic – if you are not a fan of garlic, you can choose to use onions instead.
- White wine – to add more complexity and richness to the dish’s flavor, add ½ cup of dry white wine as soon as the eggplants are slightly roasted before you stir in the rest of the ingredients.
- Spicy - you can optionally add black peppper or red pepper flakes, during the last minutes of cooking.
Italian eggplants are a common type of eggplant that can be found in home gardens and farmers' markets across North America. This variety of eggplant is more commonly known as "Italian" or "sweet" eggplants, contrary to their relative species, which are usually more bitter and sour than they are sweet. Italian eggplants can be harvested by cutting them from the vine near the stem, leaving about 2 inches of stem still attached to each fruit.
The main characteristic that separates Italian eggplants from other types of eggplant is the lack of a gel around their seeds, which can be found in its relative species along with a large amount of bitter taste. Since the gel contains most of the water content in the eggplant fruit, having a lack of this gel means that Italian eggs will be more succulent and less bitter.
Italian eggplants can be found at local farmers' markets as well as some grocery stores from June to September each year, depending on regional climates. They are very simple to harvest - about 2 inches should be cut from the stem of the eggplant to harvest, leaving 2 inches still attached. This bit of stem provides a place for nutrients to travel from the roots into the fruit, which will continue ripening afterward.
Eggplants are a great addition to one's diet, as they have surprising health benefits.
Tips for using your Italian Eggplants
- Eggplants are great for cooking in stews, spreads, or frying
- Do not store uncooked eggplants in the refrigerator unless they are less than half of their original size
- They can be prepared by roasting or steaming to be used in salads or recipes such as baba ghanoush and ratatouille.
- They tend to last only 4 days after harvest if refrigerated.
Can I use tomato sauce or tomato paste?
I don't recommend replacing the chopped tomatoes, with tomato paste, homemade tomato sauce, or marinara sauce, because we have very few ingredients in this dish and tomatoes contribute to the final result of the dish with their texture. If you don't have fresh tomatoes, you could use them instead of canned tomatoes or even crushed tomatoes.
You can still use a homemade tomato sauce, marinara sauce, tomato paste, or even vegetable broth in case you have leftovers and the stew has dried up, this way you can still add some moisture while adding flavor. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust the flavors with some garlic powder, salt, and maybe some extra virgin olive oil.
What about fire-roasted tomatoes?
You can use fire-roasted tomatoes, just make sure they have not turned into purée, so you keep some of the texture.
Can I add bell pepper?
You can always work on variations, like adding bell pepper it any other favorite vegetable. Just keep in mind that it can vary the flavor profile. If you choose to add bell peppers, choose red, and only a small one.
More Simple Italian Eggplant recipes to Enjoy
Extra Vegan Italian recipes
Another Vegan Vegetable Stew that is super easy and quick to make is our Protein-Packed Chickpea Stew. We are sure you will love it.
If you are in love with Eggplants as we are, don't forget to check our 9 Vegan Eggplant Recipes post.
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #ourplantbasedworld on Instagram. Cheers!
Recipe: Italian Eggplant Stew - 4 Ingredients
- 18 oz eggplant about 1 medium, diced
- 18 oz tomatoes diced
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 rosemary sprig
- Wash and chop the eggplant and tomatoes under running water and cut them into medium chunks.18 oz eggplant, 18 oz tomatoes
- Chop or mince the garlic finely.4 garlic cloves
- Cook the eggplant until it is golden.18 oz eggplant
- Add the rest of the ingredients. As soon as the eggplant chunks are golden, add garlic, the diced tomatoes, and the rosemary sprig. Optionally add extra virgin olive oil and salt. Stir thoroughly and close the lid.18 oz tomatoes, 4 garlic cloves, 1 rosemary sprig, 2 tablespoons olive oil, sea salt
- Stir once or twice and let the stew cook for 20 minutes over low heat, with the lid on.
- Let it cool for a couple of minutes before serving.
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We sometimes take for granted that we have years (or decades) of cooking experience that the average visitor may not. Add to, or remove from, the list below with health and safety tips.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. See our full Nutritional Disclosure here.