Recipes from the Amalfi Coast

Try a few typical dishes from the area

By Katie & Giancarlo Caldesi

These recipes, all from Praiano's restaurant Il Pirata, are published in a great recipe book, "The Amalfi Coast: A Collection of Italian Recipes", by Katie Caldesi and her husband Giancarlo, who traveled along the Costiera in search of the dishes that define the area. Their book is available at Amazon 

Melanzane farcite alla Enza - Enza’s eggplants

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6). Cut the eggplants lengthways into 1.5 em (3 inch) thick slices (you should get about 10 slices) and then use a sharp knife to make shallow criss-crosses in the flesh. lay the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and scatter with salt. Brush the top with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until soft and browned. Meanwhile, make the topping. Mix together the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, black pepper and olive oil. When the eggplants are done, remove from the oven and spoon the tomato mixture over, placing an anchovy over the top of each slice. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes until the tomatoes have softened. Transfer to a serving dish and scatter with parsley. Eat immediately or allow to cool to room temperature. This dish will keep in the fridge for a day or two but never serve fridge-cold.

Serves 6-8

For the eggplants

3 eggplants

fine sea salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

For the topping

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

10 anchovy fillets

small handful of parsley, roughly chopped, to garnish

Crocché di patate - Hot potato croquettes filled with smoked cheese

These croquettes are packed with flavor from the smoked cheese filling. They are rather moreish, so go easy or the snack becomes the meal. Boil the potatoes whole in their skins in plenty of salted water. This preserves the flavor and prevents the potatoes from becoming watery. Meanwhile, cut the scamorza into 3 x 1 cm (1.1/2 x l/2 inch) rectangles (you will need about 25 pieces). Set aside. To check if the potatoes are done, poke the largest with a skewer or sharp knife: they should be tender inside. When there is no resistance, remove from the heat and drain. Hold the potatoes with a tea towel and peel off the skins using a sharp knife. Mash, preferably using a potato ricer, as this keeps the mash light and fluffy. Now use a large spoon or your hands to mix in the ham or bacon, finely grated cheeses, parsley, egg yolks and season to taste. Heat the oil so that it is ready for frying. Take a piece of mash the size of an egg and roll it into a ball. Put it into the palm of your hand and flatten. Place a rectangle of scamorza in the center and fold the mash over to enclose it, making sure the cheese is completely covered. Repeat until all the mash is finished: you should have about 22-25 mini sausage-shaped croquettes. Dip each crocché into the egg white and then coat in the breadcrumbs. Fry in batches until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately, while the cheese is still soft inside.

Makes 22-25 croquettes

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper

150 g (5 oz) smoked cheese, such as scamorza affumicata or smoked Cheddar

50 g (2 oz) ham or cooked bacon, finely diced

50 g (2 oz) Parmesan or Grana Padano, finely grated

25 g (1 oz) pecorino cheese, finely grated (or more Parmesan/Grana Padano)

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

2 free-range eggs, separated

salt and freshly ground black pepper

sunflower oil, for deep-frying

150 g (5 oz) breadcrumbs

Spigola in crosta di sale - Sea bass in salt crust

For this dish a mixture of herbs such as thyme, bay, parsley and basil is suitable, so long as when chopped they amount to roughly 3 tablespoons. Preheat the oven to 180c (350 F/Gas 4). Fill the cavity of the fish with 2 parsley sprigs, 1 thyme sprig and the bay leaf. Finely chop the rest of the parsley and thyme. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and hold their shape. Gently fold the herbs and salt into the egg whites without compromising the airiness of the beaten whites. Put 2 large spoonful of the mixture on the base of a baking dish lined with parchment, then lay the fish on top. Spoon the rest of the egg white mixture over until the fish is completely covered. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To serve, crack open the crust and remove most of it. Loosen the skin around the sides of the fish with a knife. Put the end of the skin by the tail through the prongs of a fork and roll up to lift it away. Use a fish slice to put the fillets onto warmed plates and drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 2

1 sea bream weighing approximately 375 g (13 oz), cleaned

large sprigs of parsley

3 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

3 egg whites

400 g (14 oz) coarse sea salt

extra-virgin olive oil, to serve

Totani e patate - Red calamari & potatoes

This is the typical dish of Praiano, where totani, or red calamari, are collected in the evenings. They are a local variety of squid with a reddish hue to their speckled skin. Ask your fishmonger to clean the calamari for you as it's quite a tricky, never mind messy, job if you haven't done it before. Cut the calamari in half lengthways and then into 2 cm (3/4 inch) wide strips. Slice the tentacles into bite-size pieces. Heat half the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic together. When just soft, add the calamari and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan frequently. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate frying pan and fry the potatoes for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and add to the calamari and onions. Add a good pinch of salt, the chilli and the parsley and reduce the heat to minimum. Shake the pan gently for 1-2 minutes so that the water from the calamari is absorbed by the potatoes. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary before serving.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 as a starter

2 large calamari, cleaned but including tentacles

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 red onion, finely chopped 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped

200 g (7 oz) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm (112 inch) thick half-moon shapes

generous pinch of salt

1 red chilli, depending on strength, thinly sliced

1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Totani saltati in padella - Sauté Squid

Cut the squid into strips. Pour a little oil into a pan. Heat the oil, lightly flour the strips of squid and sauté them in the pan. Flip them without a spoon while warming the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over low heat, turning it into a cream. Prepare a plate with a bed of arugula, then put the squid strips over the arugola and sprinkle with the cream of balsamic vinegar.


Serves 2

200 grams (7 oz) of squid

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

A few leaves of arugola

Impepata di cozze - Peppered mussels

Put the mussels in a large frying pan with the black pepper. Place over a medium heat and add water. Cover and cook, shaking the pan frequently. When the last mussel opens add the lemon juice and serve with the lemon slices. Discard any unopened shells.

Serves 6 as a starter

1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) mussels, cleaned and debearded

1.1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

50 ml (2 fl oz/1/2 cup) water juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon cut into slices, to serve

parsley, to garnish

Patate di Enza - Enza’s fried potatoes

This simple dish goes with almost everything and is quick to make. Leave out the onion if you wish, and if serving with meat throw in some rosemary at the end. Heat the oil in a deep-sided frying pan until it reaches 175c (340F), or a piece of bread sizzles and quickly becomes golden brown. Slice the potatoes and onions lengthways and then into 5 mm (1/4 inch) half moons. Fry the potatoes until just golden brown, then add the onions and continue to cook until crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer to a warmed serving dish. Scatter with salt before serving.

Serves 4-6

200-300ml (7-10 f1 oz/ 1-1.1/4 cups) sunflower oil for frying (add more if necessary)

600 g (1 lb 5 oz) floury, unpeeled potatoes, such as Maris Piper or King Edwards

1 white onion


The Amalfi Coast’s most well-known towns are Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, three jewels, each with its own unique character and beauty and all world renowned. But at the heart of the Costiera is a fourth jewel, Praiano, a less hectic and more authentic town, where many discerning tourists have begun to stay, using it as a base for their Amalfi Coasting. Try Praiano, trust us!

Tomatoes as Sweet as Candy

In Praiano local biodiversity evolved vertically and lead to very characteristic products

The Amalfi Coast Cuisine, Rooted in Centuries of Culinary Traditions

What they cook now comes directly from the ancestors