Melanzane 'mbuttunate


When I say this Italian grandmother’s recipe changed my life, I truly mean it



When it comes to my channel, it’s hard to narrow down my favorite recipes or submissions, but the “grandma recipes” are always a true delight. These are the kinds of recipes that you can picture a grandmother making for her family. The grandma recipes have been handed down for generations and require labor, love, and measuring with your heart. And Melanzane ‘Mbuttunate is a perfect example.

Throughout my latest series, I’ve been learning about foods from around the world that feature eggplant. Now, the series has brought me to Italy and Stella’s submission for Melanzane ‘Mbuttunate or stuffed eggplant. Stella shared that this dish is a Southern Italy delicacy that’s often eaten at lunch or dinner as a side dish. Although Stella says that almost every Italian seems to have their own version, none are as special to her as her grandmother’s. Stella was never able to meet her grandmother, so cooking her recipe for Melanzane ‘Mbuttunate allows Stella to still feel connected to her.

Melanzane ‘Mbuttunate translates to “patterned eggplant” and is named for the scoring technique that’s used on the eggplant. Once the eggplants are cut in half, the outside is scored so that there are small slits across the flesh. To follow Stella’s grandmother’s recipe, you’ll then want to salt the eggplants and allow them to rest for 30 minutes. This removes any bitter flavor and will help the eggplant crisp up instead of getting soggy. After the eggplant has rested, rinse off the salt, and then pat them dry.

For the eggplant stuffing, you’ll combine some minced garlic, freshly chopped dill, salt, black pepper, chili powder, breadcrumbs, and a healthy pour of olive oil. Stir the ingredients until you have a crumbly mixture and use it to stuff the eggplants. Stella’s grandmother also had a secret step where she would slide a piece of guanciale into the eggplants for an extra bit of savoriness. The final step is to place the eggplants into a baking dish with a heap of chopped cherry tomatoes and bake for an hour.

Melanzane ‘Mbuttunate is pure comfort. It’s a recipe that requires a lot of hands on cooking, but the warming and delicious result is so special.

Watch the Video

Melanzane 'mbuttunate


  • 1 Italian eggplant small/medium sized
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 6 thin slices guanciale
  • ½ cup wild fennel chopped, can be substituted with dill
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • chili powder to taste
  • olive oil


  • Cut the eggplants in half, score their flesh with a knife, sprinkle with salt and let rest for 30 minutes. Wash and pat dry.
  • Combine breadcrumbs with wild fennel (or dill), garlic, salt, pepper, and chili to taste, and a generous pour of Evo.
  • Stuff eggplants with the mixture (3-4 tablespoons per eggplant should suffice) plus a slice of guanciale per eggplant.
  • Place the eggplant into the casserole dish, along with the diced cherry tomatoes, cover with tinfoil, put into a preheated oven at 180⁰C (350⁰F) for at least an hour. `
  • Around the 40 minute mark you can remove the tinfoil so that both eggplant and tomatoes can roast a little.
  • The dish is ready when the eggplant are pierced with a toothpick and they are very very soft.
Course: Dinner
Region: Europe
Keyword: Comfort food


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Is this my new favorite pasta? Quite possibly. (The key is brown butter)