|Pecorino from Pienza|
Everyone asks us about Italian food. How is it, what have we tried, how's the wine, can you understand the menu? We're doing our best to become informed (it's our duty to you right?) and trying as many dishes as we can. We've found the food to be wonderful, the wine to be great, and the menus in Italian. Fortunately, we have a fancy little translator that helps us out. For the most part, we've received what we thought we'd ordered...although the pizza with the tuna on top was a surprise! (It sounds odd, but it was really tasty.)
|Wild boar is used to make a variety of salumi and salsiccia products.|
Italian cuisine is very regional. Here in Tuscany they have their own way of making a particular dish. Then we can drive to the Umbria region just a few miles to the east and the same dish will be prepared differently. Head north to the Emilia-Romanga region and the food is prepared in an even different manner. With over twenty regions in Italy we can't even imagine the variety of dishes awaiting our discovery. Our mouths are watering and our waistbands are expanding just thinking about it!
The little kitchen in our house is getting a bit of use as well. We've bought a variety of fresh, local pastas and cheeses. Shopping at the Camucia farmer's market on Thursday is a treat - we find fresh vegetables, fruits, locally made salumi (prosciutto and preserved ham) and salsiccia (sausages and other pork products like salami). We watch the local ladies pick through the produce looking for just the right tomatoes or onions - these are serious decisions to be made.
Everything looks so good that it inspires us to try new recipes. Last week it was the eggplants...so dark and purple and shiny. Never having made eggplant parmigiana before, we decided to try it and found a recipe online by Mario Batali that looked good. It turned out wonderfully, especially since the eggplant is baked and not fried, and it was very easy to make. We liked it so much, we're passing it along to you.
Mario Batali's Eggplant Parmigiana
Slice the eggplant into 1" thick discs, lightly salt and pepper them and place on an oiled cookie sheet. Bake at 400 degrees (F) for about 15 minutes, until they just start to brown. Remove from the oven and transfer pieces to a casserole dish. On each slice of eggplant spread your favorite pasta sauce, sprinkle with chopped basil, and add a thin slice of mozzarella cheese topped with a teaspoon of grated parmigiana. Layer the eggplant and continue until all slices are used. Top with toasted bread crumbs and bake at 350 degrees until the cheese melts. Serve immediately with a little salad and vino rosso.