Tag Archives: #italianfood

Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a dish that I have not made in about thirty years. The reason for that is I was asked, thirty years ago, to make several trays of eggplant parm for my best friend’s engagement party. I was up literally all night and my kitchen was completely trashed for about a week. I think that experience gave me eggplant parm PTSD.

The only time I will ever use a jar sauce is for pizza or parm. My Sunday sauce is too rich (due to all the pork and beef that I add). The richness would take away from the flavor of the eggplant. That said, the sauce that worked for this is Michael’s of Brooklyn.

To start this dish, peel your eggplants (I leave just a few strips of peel on) then slice thinly into circles, about 1/4 of an inch thick. Then dip slices into well beaten egg, followed by breadcrumbs. I place breaded slices on a wire rack until all of my eggplant has been breaded. Then in a shallow fry pan, heat canola oil. When the oil is hot, add eggplant and fry until slightly browned on both sides (should take about 3 minutes per side). I return the fried slices to the wire rack so any excess oil drains off.

Next step is to prepare the layers in your baking pan. I start with a healthy amount of sauce in the bottom of the pan. Lay down a layer of eggplant followed by as much mozzarella as you like and some fresh ricotta and top with some more sauce. Repeat layers until you are out of eggplant. Make sure top is mozzarella and sauce.

I baked mine for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. That’s it! Enjoy this delicious dish.

Orecchiette…

This simple, one pot meal is a real crowd pleaser. Cheap & easy (like some people I know) you’ll have this prepared in no time. Step one is to coarsely chop a ton of fresh garlic and a bunch of fresh broccoli rabe (if you find yellow flowers on the broccoli rabe, it’s not fresh). Bring about 5 inches of water, with one bullion cube added, to a boil, add the the broccoli rabe and cook for seven minutes. Strain and refresh with cold water (to revive that gorgeous green color). Next, in the same pot, add a little EVOO, fresh sausage meat (uncased), red pepper flakes, and garlic and cook until all redness is gone. Toss this on top of the broccoli rabe that is sitting in the strainer. Now fill, the same pot, with water seasoned with kosher salt (don’t clean it, let all those yummy flavors season the water – work smarter, not harder!) When rapidly boiling, add orecchiette and cook until al dente – depending on the brand of pasta (I use Barilla) about 9 minutes (taste it before you strain it). Before straining, reserve about 2 cups of the pasta water. Now strain the pasta and return to pot, add the broccoli rabe and sausage meat with a little EVOO, black pepper, 1/2 of a freshly squeezed lemon and if you want to loosen up the sauce some of the reserved pasta water. Plate and add a ton of grated cheese (no one is judging!) more red pepper flakes to taste and freshly chopped parsley. Boun appetito!

The ONE POT….

Apps, Nolacco style…

Two of our favorite Sunday appetizers are fried cubed eggplant and zucchini flowers (I’ve mentioned in the past how hard the flowers are to find).  The eggplant is the brainchild of my hubby.  It’s simply cubed eggplant, dipped in scrambled egg, breaded in breadcrumbs, fried and salted. It’s so good, I forgot how much I liked eggplant until he started making this on Sundays.  The zucchini flowers are prepared similarly, dipped in egg then in flour (no breadcrumbs) and fried and salted.  Much to my horror after buying these at a farmer’s market once I found that several of the flowers had bees in them – so do check before frying them.  There are several recipes (and I’ve tried a few) that stuff the flowers with either ricotta or mozzarella.  I find that stuffing the flowers really overpowers the delicacy and earthiness of the flower, but to each her own.