They say that Salerno is the Amalfi Coast’s best kept secret so I probably shouldn’t tell you about it. It’s important you see that this grand old signora of Campania remains a secret otherwise all and sundry will be aching to reside in one of its cute little teracotta-roofed appartamentos piled one on top of the other each wistfully gazing out to the cerulean-blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. I shouldn’t tell you about the ‘Via Roma’ that comes to glorious life as the endlessly long days of summer slowly cool into the chattering dance of the evening passeggiata. And I definitely shouldn’t tell you about the ‘Lungomare Trieste’ which is widely considered to be the most beautiful beachside promenade in all of Italy. Here, there are virtually no concessions to tourism and yet you will find yourself able to travel with decadent ease to some of the most glamorous places on earth including breathtaking Ravello, dreamy Positano and the glorious Islands of Capri, Ischia and Nerano. Oh, and there’s also Napoli, a mere 35-minute train ride away. From a culinary perspective, Salerno is justifiably famous for, amongst other things, a delicious pasta dish made with Amalfi lemons; its world class buffalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes; melons, citrus, figs and grapes; my all time favourite, parmigiana di melanzane; authentic Neapolitan pizzas (way better than any we sampled in Napoli) and saltless rustic breads baked in communal brick ovens. Early one morning, after the day’s baking had finished and our favourite baker had no further need of hisoven, we chose to take coffee on a nearby terrace in order to watch the Italian nonnas puffing their way up the hill with both hands clawed around old terracotta dishes and iron skillets filled with cooked vegetables which, upon arrival at the oven, they would crack over several eggs before muddling everything around with a fork. These, they lovingly slipped amongst the dying embers of the fire before quietly walking towards us to sit for a few minutes quietly muttering amongst themselves. Returning once more to the oven, they lovingly withdrew their progeny now re-born as a beautiful baked frittata similar to the one I have recreated here. This is a really lovely dish to be enjoyed either warm from the oven or served at room temperature with a well-dressed green salad, some crusty bread and a glass of red.
A generous knob of butter
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large white onion, finely sliced
2 sweet red peppers, seeds and membranes removed and finely sliced in long lengths
Half tsp of sea salt
30g fresh parsley, finely chopped
10 large free-range eggs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to your taste
100g Fontina cheese, thinly sliced (ask your local Italian deli to do this for you)
Lemon zest, for garnishing (optional)
Rocket, for garnishing (optional)
How I make it
Heat an oven to 200C and line a 25cm pie dish with baking parchment.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and butter. Add the sliced onions, red peppers and salt. Cover, turn down the heat and allow the peppers to cook until they are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Them beat the eggs together with a fork and season. Add the cooked onions, peppers and drop in the chopped parsley. Mix everything together and pour the mixture into the pie dish. Carefully cover the mixture with slices of Fontina cheese.
Place the dish into the oven and bake until the frittata is just firm at the centre and golden at the edges, around 25-30 minutes.
Remove the dish from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Carefully lift the frittata out of the pan via the edges of the baking parchment. Garnish with lemon zest and rocket (if using).