Mulignane a fungetiello – fried and stewed aubergines from Napoli

melanzane a funghetto

“Mulignane a fungetiello” is Neapolitan dialect for the Italian “melanzane a funghetto”, which means “aubergines mushroom-style” and it is one of the most popular, traditional and best ways of cooking aubergines: the aubergines are either shallow or deep fried and are then stewed with garlic (never onion) and either parsley or basil or oregano or mint; one could also make the dish a little richer by adding tomatoes, capers and black olives, but I prefer the basic version where the aubergine is allowed to shine. The aubergines are called “a funghetto/mushroom-style” because they are cooked in the way mushrooms are commonly prepared in Italy (quickly fried in oil, garlic and, generally, parsley) and also because they indeed end up resembling cooked mushrooms – little bronzed morsels glistening with oil and  speckled with green, herbal flakes.

The recipe that follows comes originally from a much loved book: La Cucina Napoletana, by Carola Francesoni, but it should really be thought of as a flexible reference – nothing prescriptive here… well, almost. One rule I urge you not to break is to let the dish rest for a few hours before eating – this does improve the flavour immensely. I would make mulignane a fungetiello in the morning for the evening. Any leftovers are great panino material.

A couple of observations: first of all, signora Francesconi suggests you need a “frying pan-full” of olive oil (she says: “una padella”). I love this generic and yet precise expression: it means a lot, and you will definitely need a lot of oil because the aubergines are cooked in such a way as to be in between shallow and deep frying (see the video at the end, from the wonderful Mimmo Corcione). Secondly: what oil to use?  Extra-virgin, for sure: the taste of the oil is an essential part of the dish (nothing fancy though, it would be wasted here: I generally use an organic Italian extra-virgin of medium range).

Mulignane a fungetiello – fried and stewed aubergines


Aubergines 2 kg
Oil: a lot
a couple of cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
A generous handful of chopped parsley or basil or oregano or mint:

If you wish:
4 or 5 peeled firm, fresh tomatoes, cut up (San Marzano, ideally: firm, meaty and not at all watery)
A handful of stoned black olives
A couple of tablespoons of capers, rinsed

Wash and cube the aubergines, roughly 3 cm per side. Salt them and leave them to degorge for a few hours. Rinse, drain, squeeze them dry and drop them on a towel. Leave them for at least one hour to dry in the air – the more dry they are, the better they will fry.

Use a large frying pan and be prepared to fry in batches. Warm up the oil and when shimmering, fry the aubergines till golden. Remove them with a spider and tip them into a colander placed above a bowl. Leave the aubergines for one hour, to release as much oil as possible.

Use some of this rendered oil to stew the aubergines, adding a couple of tablespoons to the same frying pan, alongside the garlic.Warm up the oil on medium flame and let the garlic take a pale golden colour. Remove it, raise the heat and add the chosen chopped herbs. Stir it around and add the aubergines. Give them now a good stir, lower the heat to minimum, cover and stew the lot for about 20 minutes.

Let it rest. Add more chopped herbs before serving.

If you want to make the richer version, you can either follow the tradition and add the tomatoes, the capers and the olives when you stew the aubergines or you can do what I do and add them when the aubergines have stewed and cooled down a little – this will give you a fresher, lighter finish.

check how the wonderful Mimmo Corcione prepares his aubergines:

11 thoughts on “Mulignane a fungetiello – fried and stewed aubergines from Napoli

  1. This looks really good — from the name in dialect and the photo I already had a pretty good idea. Is this dish also called melanzane trifolate? I may do the first step in the oven to reduce the amount of oil.


    1. it could be— I have never heard of melanzane trifolate, but it could be: it is the same idea; little things fried in oil, garlic and parsley, mushroom style (trifole = mushroom… in Piemontese and possibly also in Lombardy dialect). stef do follow Mimmo Corcione: he is really good

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for that — I did not know trifole means mushroom in Piemontese dialect and always wondered why adding TWO ingredients would have a name that starts with “tri”, of which only one is a leaf. I had heard of melanzane trifolate before, and googling it produces over 7,000 hits. I’ll check out Mimmo Corcione.


  2. I love the sound of this… um… except for the “garlic, never onion.” What is a boy to do? Seriously, could I get away with minced shallot? Thanks, Ste!


    1. of course… fkuk the garlic! 🙂 … u know these loose italian recipes: as long as the main idea is being respected, lots of variations


    1. Ciao Stefano! I was born in Isola D’Istria and came here when I was 5. So I do speak Italian but in the dialect. I read Italian very well. I am so glad that I found your blog!! I love talking about Italian food and family. One of the reasons I started my blog was that I missed my mamma and papà so much once they passed away. They were my link to my Italian side. Where we came to the US there were no other Italians. Cooking is my passion and my children wanted my husband and I to record our recipes. That’s how it all started. I’m looking forward to discovering more italian recipes on your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. grazie.. I do not know that part of slovenia at all… In fact i have never been to slovenia, but I love Trieste. I guess yr parents had to leave that part of what once was Italy after Tito, correct?
        I have just googled it: it looks beautiful. I will check yr website (and I now follow u on Instagram)… I assume u know Paola from Italy On my Mind: she has just published a book called Adriatico, which covers a lot of that part of the world.
        … and of course in the US u have Lidya Bastianich that was originally from up there… isn’t she?
        speak u soon
        ps: I do also have an italian blog, which is a little more free-style and less educational in approach: food I cook, notes, methods – appunti di cucina, direi: it is called: (for instance there is a recipe for gubana, that I was myself just checking again) ciao Marisa, a presto


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