On the Page...
I am truly torn. I read this book in the course of one evening, devouring the Italian food philosophy that I myself embrace since I learned to cook in Rome in the late 90s.
I love the Italian way of cooking and looking at food: nurture a garden, share well-cooked meals family and friends, and have a passion for ingredients and cooking that nourish the body and the soul. But, simultaneously, I felt more than a little disdain in the author's voice. Like the Anthony Bourdain of his time - remember this book is over half a century old! - Pelligrini struck me as condescending to the audience and critical of this land of plenty. Both of those left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
This was a book that I both loved and loathed.
On the Plate...So, embracing Pelligrini's philosophy and ignoring the pretentiousness, I decided to go with a simple dish for my family of four that I made with one eggplant, two tomatoes, one round of fresh mozzarella, and some fresh basil leaves. No waste!
Napoléons are typically pastries made of layers of puff pastry and two crème pâtissière layers with a fondant topping. I made a savory equivalent.
Grilled Eggplant Napoléons
- 1 large organic eggplant, washed, dried, and sliced into 1/2" steaks
- balsamic vinegar
- olive for greasing the pan
- freshly ground salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 organic tomatoes, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
- 1 round of fresh mozzarella, cubed - approximately 3/4 C
- 2 T fresh basil leaves, chopped + more for garnish
- olive oil
Generously salt the eggplant on both side, laying them on a wire rack over a baking sheet to drain for at least 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes, rinse all of the salt off and place in a baking dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. During the last 10 minutes of marinating, heat a grill pan on the stove - or use a real grill. Oil the pan when hot and place the eggplant steaks on the grill pan. Cook till the eggplant is softened and with distinctive marks, approximately 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Place grilled eggplant on a baking sheet and in the oven to keep warm until ready to serve.
Toss the tomatoes and mozzarella together in a bowl for a quick caprese salad. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, lay one grilled eggplant round on your serving plate. Top with caprese and another eggplant round. Finish with another scoop of caprese and garnish with some fresh basil.
Pronto al tavolo!
Deb of Kahakai Kitchen is our next hostess and she has selected Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn.*
*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.
I am also linking this post to the March 2016 Foodie Reads Challenge.