Penne Con I Broccoli – Penne with Broccoli

Penne with Broccoli

 

This is our second recipe from our cookbook “Italy, The Beautiful Cookbook”, and one that my daughter chose.  I wasn’t very surprised, as she loves broccoli, but then I read the rest of the ingredients and thought, she obviously only read the title.  I was quite perplexed at the combination of ingredients as well, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, raisins, anchovies, pine nuts…….in my brain, these ingredients really shouldn’t go together.  But they did, marvelously well, and we were all really surprised.  My hubs mentioned that he felt that it was because there were really no overpowering flavors, it was just the right amount of each ingredient for it to be harmonious, delicate even!

This recipe is from the southern Italian region of Apulia (Puglia).  As the south of Italy was conquered and influenced by the Arabs, this recipe started to make more sense, it was an obvious melange of Arabic and Italian cooking!  The use of savoury and sweet is very Arabic, hence the pine nuts and raisins, but then combining it with broccoli, tomatoes, garlic and anchovies is redolent of southern Italian cooking.  Many of you will want to omit the anchovies, as I know that not everyone is on that bandwagon, but I ask you to try it out, if my daughter, who hates all things fishy, couldn’t tell and was waxing poetic about this recipe, I am positive you won’t either.  Because the recipe calls for you to mash it and then fry it in the olive oil with the garlic, it basically melts in the oil, and adds just a hint of salt and umami to the dish.  If you are still hesitant, reduce the amount, but don’t leave it out!

So here is what you’re going to need:

Serves 6

1/4 cup raisins

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 can (1lb/500g) whole, peeled tomatoes

salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 head broccoli

500g Penne pasta

6 anchovy fillets in oil, mashed

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 cup pine nuts

Grated Pecorino cheese

Soak the raisins in lukewarm water to cover until needed.  Heat half the oil in a large skillet over moderate heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent.  Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for about an hour to reduce the sauce.

Meanwhile, separate the broccoli into florets and stems.  Peel and slice the stems.  Drop into a saucepan of boiling water and cook until the penne are al dente.

Fry the anchovy fillets gently with the garlic and pine nuts in oil, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.  Add to the tomato sauce.  Mix in the strained raisins, broccoli florets and a spoonful of the cooking water from the pasta, cover and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender, stirring frequently.

Add the strained penne to the skillet, and raise the heat to high, stirring frequently to incorporate all the sauce.  Serve immediately with the grated Pecorino cheese.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Murgh Makhanwala (Butter Chicken)

Butter Chicken

 

I have no idea if this is the authentic recipe, but let me tell you, it tasted damn well delicious! For me Indian food is akin to comfort food.  Blame my college room-mate, who I love dearly and her family hails from Gujarat;  she was the person who used to cook for me when I couldn’t even boil water.

I don’t think there is anything more satisfying than a deliciously spiced meal, with loads of extra tasty sauce to sop up with home-made bread, in this case, Naan.  I stole this recipe from the Saveur website.  It popped up in my inbox, and I couldn’t get it out of my head since the moment I looked at it.  Normally my main problem in making Indian food is finding all the right ingredients.  This one is fairly easy, the only ingredient missing was the fresh or frozen curry leaves, which I still haven’t managed to find here.  Hopefully, one day I will, but to tell you the truth, I don’t think it would have changed much in this dish.  This chicken is really “finger lickin’ good”…..I mean, with all that yummy sauce, it begs for you to let your table manners go for the night!  As always, the true testament of a dish being good or great….my daughter eating it all, and then taking some for lunch the next day!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

For the chicken:

1/2 cup greek yogurt

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp oil

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp crushed red chile flakes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 3″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced cross-wise

Salt, to taste

1 3-4 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces and skin removed

For the sauce:

1 tsp crushed red chile flakes

4 cloves of garlic, minced

4 whole cardamom pods, cracked

3 whole cloves, crushed

1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

1 3″ piece of ginger, washed and grated

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

4 fresh or frozen curry leaves

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

 

Marinate the chicken:  Combine all ingredients except for chicken in a food processor; purée.  Transfer marinade to a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.  (I did overnight, I think it made a difference.)

Heat oven to 500F (250C).  Transfer chicken to aluminum foil lined baking sheet, and spoon any marinade left over on top of the chicken.  Bake chicken until light brown but not cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a rack, set aside.

Make the sauce:  In a large pot over med-high heat, combine chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, and 2/3 cup water.  Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to med-low, and cook, stirring often and crushing tomatoes with a spoon, for 25 minutes.  Discard bay leaf and transfer sauce to a food processor, purée.  Return sauce to pot and continue cooking over medium-low heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.  Add reserved chicken pieces and any marinade left over from the pan, along with a 1/3 cup water.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Stir in cream, butter, garam masala and curry leaves.  Reduce heat to low and cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve with warm Naan bread.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla 

Penne with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Cream Sauce

 

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Hi fellow friends and bloggers, it has been a loooong time since I updated my blog!  For good reason though, this summer has been crazy busy.  In June I married my amazing fiancé and then embarked on our honeymoon to Asia!  What a wild ride, I wish I could do it all over again, but alas, my child needs schooling and so all good things must come to an end.

It’s been 8 months since we moved to Madrid, and that also has been super crazy, making new friends, my daughter is in a new school, hubby in a new job……and me, well I have a new blog!  From now on, all my sweet baking confections will be on San Luis Baking Co.  I hope you enjoy and visit!

So, for our recipe.  Another new adventure has been my potted tomato plants.  We eat tomatoes like they go out of style, but most importantly, my hubs and used to go crazy because finding Italian tomato varieties here is close to impossible.  On one trip to Italy, I bought three types of tomatoes, Pacchino Cherry, which is an heirloom from Sicily, small, but sweet as sugar; San Marzano, which hails from Campania (around Naples, Italy) and is one of the best varieties to make sauce; and Costoluto Fiorentino, which is a large heirloom from Tuscany which makes for a killer salad tomato!  I harvested the seeds, planted in the beginning of May, and voila! This has been my first foray into tomato gardening, and it has had its ups and downs, but I am amazed at the yield that I have had!  So our recipe today includes my cherry tomatoes, straight from the vine.  I know most of us don’t have tomatoes at home, so try to find the ripest, sweetest cherry tomatoes to make this dish.  The tomatoes’ acidity balances well with the mellow cream, and the smokiness of the salmon pairs perfectly in this dish, it’s a winner!

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So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 3-4

300g Penne Pasta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili flakes

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup Vodka

200 ml heavy cream

100 g smoked salmon, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp fresh Italian parsley, minced

In a large stockpot, put water and 1 tbsp salt to boil.  In a medium sauté pan over medium low heat, add the olive oil.  When hot, add the chili flakes and the garlic.  Cook until fragrant, about 4 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn.  Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for another 2 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and a 1/4 cup of water, and lower the heat to low.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the water has evaporated by half.

Raise the heat to high, and add the vodka and carefully light to flambe; to burn off all the alcohol.  Lower the heat to a minimum, and add the cream and stir.  Take off the heat and add the salmon, pepper and give it a good stir.  Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.  When it is done, strain all but a tbsp of the water, and toss it in the pan with your sauce.  Raise the heat on your pan, and cook on high for about 2 minutes, until all the pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.  Sprinkle with the parsley, and serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Pesce al Acqua Pazza – Sea Bream in “Crazy Water” Sauce

Pesce al Aqua Pazza

Acqua Pazza is probably one of my favorite styles of baking fish.  I tried it in Positano for the first time, and I was so enthralled with it, it completely embodies what you want to eat in summer in the Mediterranean.

Acqua Pazza literally means, crazy water.  I guess the crazy part is that it has just a touch of chili pepper, but if that’s what crazy means, I am totally “loco” over it!

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Super simple to make, it will literally take you all of 40 minutes to make this.  Most of the ingredients you will probably have in your pantry already, all you need is some delicious super fresh fish.  We decided on this beautiful Red Sea Bream, very typical here in Spain.

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Easy enough for a weeknight meal, but spectacular for an early lunch now that the weather is warming up!   I hope you try it, cause I am sure you will be hooked too!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

1  2kg whole firm fleshed white fish, such as Corvina, Snapper, Sea Bream, or Sea Bass.  Ask your fishmonger to clean it for you.

Salt and Pepper, to taste

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp chili pepper flakes

1/2 large onion, sliced

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp capers

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp lemon juice

Lemon slices, for garnish

Pre heat the oven to 200 C.  Wash the fish thoroughly, inside and out.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and place in a large baking dish.  Set aside.

In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium low heat.  Add the chili pepper, onion, and garlic, and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes and raise the heat to high, stirring.  Add the white wine and capers, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until super fragrant.  Take off heat and add the 1/4 cup water and lemon juice.  Let cool for about 5 minutes, and pour over fish, add the lemon slices to the top.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, serve immediately.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 72 – Shepherd’s Pie

Sheperd's Pie

I bet you thought I had forgotten about my self-imposed challenge.  True, I haven’t been cooking as much lately, but as I have been preparing for the wedding and busy with beaurocratic bullsh*t since I moved, the inspiration has been on the back burner.  But I’m back, with a vengeance!  Finally after settling in and having the majority of my tasks completed, I now have time and the chutzpah to dedicate to some serious cooking.  Especially now that the weather has turned, and I can open my kitchen windows and let in that beautiful spring breeze!

I have made shepherd’s pie for many, many years.  It was one of the first ways I got my daughter to eat her veg, masked under the layers of creamy mash.  That is why I was so excited to try this recipe from Saveur, because it looked delicious.  And true to its word, as my daughter put it, it was the best shepherd’s pie she had ever eaten.  Quite disillusioned with the recipes that we tried before from the magazine, she was super surprised when I told her its provenance!

I know I mentioned in my first challenge that I would recreate the recipes exactly as they are printed, but since moving to Madrid, I haven’t found “my markets” yet.  You know, your go-to places to get those ingredients that are a little harder to find?  Well, in my case, even the easy ingredients are harder to find.  It’s amazing how much Madrid differs to Barcelona.  Some things that I considered staples in my household because I knew where to buy them, have now become extremely difficult to attain.  So, this recipe has two variants.  Instead of lamb shoulder, I used ground beef, (I get lots of lamb chops in my neighborhood, but shoulder, not so much.)  And, I added peas.  Just cause we all love peas.  (I snuck some nutmeg into the mash too….)

This dish was a winner.  The layer of beef was juicy and flavorful, the mash was silky smooth on the inside, and perfectly crispy on the outside.  Total hit!

Overall Points:  9/10 –  It beat the Carbonnade!

Difficulty:  Medium, just for the varying components of the recipe.  But, it is leaning more towards easy.

Availability of ingredients:  Readily available

Serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lb trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 1/4″ cubes

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup beef stock

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

2 bay leaves

1 15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

1/2 cup frozen peas (my addition)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

2 lb russet potatoes, peeled

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 tbsp unsalted butter

Freshly grated nutmeg (my addition)

1. Heat oil in a 6-qt saucepan over medium high heat.  Add lamb, and cook, stirring, until browned all over, 10-12 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Add celery, garlic, carrot, and onion to pan, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes.  Add wine, and cook, stirring to scrape bottom of pan, until wine evaporates, about 8 minutes.  Add stock, Worcestershire, bay leaves, and tomatoes, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 6 minutes.  Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, add the peas and lamb, mix well, and transfer to a 9″ deep-dish pie plate; set aside.

2.  Heat oven to 400 F.  Place potatoes in a 4 qt saucepan, and cover with water by 1″; bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until tender, about 30 minutes; drain.  Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to a simmer in a 1 qt saucepan; keep warm.  Transfer potatoes to a food mill or potato ricer, and process into a bowl; add hot cream and butter, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and whisk until smooth and fluffy.  Spoon potatoes over meat filling in dish, spreading to cover to the edge; drag tines of fork lightly over potatoes to create ridges all over.  (Alternatively, fill a piping bag with the potatoes and pipe them in rows over the filling.)  Bake until potatoes are golden brown and filling is heated through, about 45 minutes.  Let cool 20 minutes. (Serve with peas if you didn’t add them in!)

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Rigatoni with Cauliflower

Rigatoni with Cauliflower

It is amazing how many variations of sauces there are for pasta.  Although there are some that can be found throughout Italy, such as carbonara, ragu bolognese, al pommodoro, there are some that are truly autochthonous to a certain region.  For example, the only place that I have seen pasta to be eaten with lentils, is Naples.  This one, rigatoni with cauliflower, is from Sicily.

My household wasn’t very excited at the prospect of having cauliflower with their pasta, probably because my fiancé Paolo is from the north, and you just Don’t. Put. Cauliflower. On. Pasta. Period.

But, I need them to eat their veg, and I figured under the tomatoes and anchovies and breadcrumbs, it would be well masked.  This dish is great for anyone that want to get their vitamins and some omega 3′s in a plate of pasta.  Seriously, isn’t that the best way?  (Unless you are allergic to gluten, that is!)

This is another recipe from the book that I mentioned in my last postThe Country Cooking of Italy, by Colman Andrews.  I have to admit, I was unsure of how it was going to taste, since I never actually ate this anywhere in Sicily, but to all of our surprise, it was really delicious!  If you aren’t fond of anchovies, you can omit or lessen the amount.  I personally love them, but I know they aren’t everyone’s favorite!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup toasted breadcrumbs

1 small head of cauliflower, separated into florets and finely chopped

6-8 anchovy fillets, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp peperoncini

salt and pepper to taste

5 whole canned san marzano tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 lb rigatoni

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the breadcrumbs, stir well, and cook, stirring frequently, until they are well toasted, about 15 minutes.  Set them aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same frying pan over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes.  Stir in the anchovies, garlic, and peperoncini and season with salt and pepper.  Stir in 1/2 cup water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 20 minutes more.

Add the tomatoes to the cauliflower mixture, stir well, and continue to cook, uncovered, until the tomato liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8-12 minutes.  Drain the pasta well and return it to the pot.  Stir in the cauliflower mixture and transfer to a warmed serving bowl.  Pass the breadcrumbs at the table.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Peposo : Tuscan Peppery Beef Stew

Tuscan Beef Stew

 

It’s April.  It’s still cold.  It’s. Not. Fun.

Normally at this time, I would be thinking of springs vegetable bounty, but unfortunately, my body is still asking for belly warming dishes such as these.  I came across this recipe from one of my cook books, “The Country Cooking of Italy” by Colman Andrews.  It is a beautiful book, full of regional recipes with beautiful pictures and anecdotes.  My decision to make this was the absolute ease of the recipe.  You basically just throw the ingredients in a dutch oven and slow cook for hours.  Perfect for when you want something delicious and homemade but don’t have the time to sit at the stove.

These ingredients are also readily available in your pantry - Pepper, Salt, Garlic, Tomato Sauce and Wine.  That’s it.  Easy as 1-2-3. (Now you’re thinking of the Jackson 5, aren’t you?)

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I made this last night for some friends who came to dinner.  Yet, I had to run a whole bunch of errands, but no problem.  Slow roasted in the oven for 8 hours, it left me plenty of time to do what I needed and still come home and whip up some boiled and buttered potatoes.

This recipe did not taste at all like any other Italian food I have ever eaten, the simplicity was very italian, but it’s peperiness reminded me more of an Asian dish than a Tuscan one.  It was truly delicious nonetheless!

So, if you have things to do and still want to make a hearty homemade meal that the family will love, you absolutely must try this dish.  And you won’t even need a knife.

 

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4-6

1 kg of beef for stew

2 tbsp crushed peppercorns (not ground)

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt

1 cup tomato sauce

1 bottle Chianti

Preheat the oven to 135C.  In a large dutch oven, add the beef, peppercorns, garlic, generous amount of salt, tomato sauce and the wine to cover.  Cover the dutch oven and place in the oven, cooking for 6-8 hours, do not take off the lid.

Serve with your favorite starch…..or not.  It’s delicious on its own.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

 

Saveur Magazine Classic Recipes No. 74 – Garides Saganaki (Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta)

shrimp

Sometimes, you come across a recipe and you read it and think, hmmm, ok, sounds nice but you really don’t think much of it.  Well, this one was like that for me.  Last night, with Paolo’s parents here on a visit, we decided to give it a try, and we were all spectacularly pleased with it.  First of all, it was super easy to prepare, and very quick.  If you have these ingredients on hand, you can make this dinner in 30 minutes, tops.  Secondly, the flavor!  Oh my lord…..the tomatoes and melted feta were heavenly, add to that the nuanced hint of the ouzo, it turned an already delicious dish into something more than special.  The secret to this dish is to really buy the best ingredients possible.  Since it only has about 8, and in small quantities, it really begs for you to go all out.

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One thing that I absolutely recommend you to do.  Have lots of fresh crusty bread on hand.  You’ll be sopping up this sauce for sure!

Overall points: 8.5/10

Difficulty: Easy

Availability of ingredients: Readily available, if you can’t find Ouzo, use any other anisette liqueur

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 medium hot green chile, stemmed and finely chopped

1 1/4 cups canned whole, peeled tomatoes in juice, crushed by hand

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 large head-on shrimp (about 12 oz.) bodies peeled (heads and tail shells left intact), deveined

4 oz. Greek feta, coarsely crumbled

2 tbsp ouzo

1 tbsp finely chopped parsley

1. Heat broiler to high.  Heat oil in an 8″ round metal gratin dish or a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and chile, and cook, stirring often, until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper; cook until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

2. Arrange shrimp in dish, spoon some sauce on top, and continue to simmer until shrimp are pink and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.  Scatter feta around shrimp, then transfer dish to broiler, and broil until feta begins to melt, about 2 minutes.  Remove dish from broiler.  Warm ouzo in a tiny pot over low heat, then ignite it with a kitchen match and pour over shrimp and feta.  When flames die out, garnish dish with parsley, and serve.  Serves 2.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Minestrone

Minestronne

 

Nothing screams homey, comfort and belly-warming to me more than Minestrone.  Growing up, it was my mother’s preferred way to get me to eat veggies, mine too now, of course; I also remember watching my uncle carefully chop all the vegetables, and explain to me in which order they should be sautéed, for how long, and of course, his secret ingredient.

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The hard rind of the parmesan cheese.  He rarely threw out any food out, there was always some use for it.  I remember as a kid, watching that incredibly hard and inedible rind being plopped into the soup mid way, and upon its extraction, it was a soft, gooey, gloop of a mess.  For me it was alchemy, magic.  And the taste of the soup…..incredible!

I still make my minestrone exactly the way my uncle taught me, digging out as many veggies from the fridge as I can, but always respecting their taste profiles.  I remember him saying never to put eggplant in, as it would give the soup a more acid taste.  So I don’t use it.  Also, he used broccoli, but this time I found this beauty:

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I think this is purple cauliflower, but the taste seems to be a cross between the two.  It gave the overall dish another beautiful color profile, which I love…..I love eating the rainbow, it just makes me feel so healthy!

The recipe I am going to give to you is by no means written down anywhere, I always make it from my memory.  So, the amounts are not perfect, so hang in there.

So, here’s what you’re going to need

Serves 8-10

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 stalk of celery, sliced

1/2 leek, halved lengthwise and sliced

6-7 cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 handful of green beans, chopped into 2 inch sticks

1/2 zucchini, diced

6-7 broccoli or purple cauliflower florets, chopped

1/2 cup white beans, from can or jar

1 tsp dried oregano

3 cups vegetable stock

1 large can (800 g) crushed tomatoes

1 parmesan cheese rind (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

 

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, carrots, celery and leeks.

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Sprinkle in some salt and sauté until softened, about 8 minutes.  Raise the heat to medium high, and add the rest of the veggies, except for the beans.

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Saute until the mushrooms are just starting to soften, about 6 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, parmesan rind and oregano.  Let it come to a boil, and then lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Five minutes before you take it off the heat, add the beans.  Taste and add more salt if needed, and some pepper.

Serve with the grated parmesan.

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From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Parmigiana di Melanzane – Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

 

I adore eggplant.  I love it’s versatility, it’s meatiness, the way it soaks up the surrounding flavors.  I love that you can even make desserts with eggplant! (Just ask the Sicilians).  Parmigiana has been a staple in my household for years.  When I was vegetarian, I used to prepare this all the time.  And, lucky for me, my sweetie Paolo, makes an amazing parmigiana.  Unfortunately, he is in Madrid, so I had to make this myself.

My daughter, also, absolutely adored this.  I didn’t tell her what was inside.  When she asked what was for dinner and I said Melanzane alla Parmigiana, she just nodded and life was ok for her.  Italian food is her passion.  I should probably start translating all of my dishes in Italian so she’ll eat them.  The best bit was when she tried the first bite and told me it was delicious.  Score!  Another veggie consumed happily by the picky teen!

Parmigiana can be served as a main meal, or as an appetizer.  But I like to eat it as a main, since every bite is amazing.  Oh, and this recipe I changed up a bit, to make it a little more heart and calorie friendly.  Instead of frying the eggplant, I baked them in the oven.   Let me tell you, I think I am going to make it like this all the time.  The flavors of the tomato sauce and the eggplant really came out, instead of the heaviness of the oil.  But hey, if you ain’t watchin’ your weight, go ahead and fry!

It is a very simple dish to prepare.  It has a few steps, but once that is done, you can just sit back and wait until it comes out of the oven.  And it’s even better the day after!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 4 (as a meal) or 8 (appetizer)

2 medium eggplants, sliced and sprinkled with salt, and place in a colander for about 1 hour, then rinsed.

1 tbsp olive oil, more for tray and eggplants.

1/2 onion, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 small cans diced tomatoes, if you can, use italian tomatoes.  You WILL notice the difference.

2 fresh mozzarella, sliced

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425F (220C).   On a large baking tray, place a layer of aluminum, and paint with a layer of olive oil.  Place all the eggplant slices on the tray, and then paint them with another layer of oil.

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Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until starting to brown.  Take out of the oven and lower the heat to 400F (200C).

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan over medium low heat, add the tbsp of olive oil.  Add the onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté until translucent and softened, about 6-8 minutes.   Add the two cans of tomatoes and cook for about 20 minutes.

In a small baking dish, add a scant layer of tomato sauce.  Top with the slices of eggplant, then mozzarella, and finally the parmesan cheese.

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Repeat, adding, in order, tomato sauce, eggplant, mozzarella and parmesan until you have no more.  The last layer should be the mozzarella and parmesan.  Cover with foil and bake for about 20 minutes.   Uncover and continue to bake until the cheese is golden brown and most of the water from the tomatoes has evaporated.    Take out of the oven and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

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From my kitchen to yours,

Carla