Melanzana alla parmigiana

sqaushes and peppers

Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Excuse me for a second while I wipe cheese off my chin…. um, ok:

Do you see that gorgeous white eggplant perfectly air bushed with lilac purple on it? That beauty was one of the many treasures that came home with me in my CSA haul. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I must do it justice.

Which meant a quick visit with this amazing lady to use this recipe:

http://www.lidiasitaly.com/recipes/detail/443

I absolutely adore this woman, and not just because of her extremely helpful cooking instructions. She takes me home.

Well not to my house specifically, but to be blunt, I grew up with a bunch of Italians. At one point in my life, I was convinced my lineage was inaccurate, because of the OBVIOUS oversight and exclusion of my Italian forebearers.

Surely there were some. But, back to my story…

My  three best friends Tim, Todd, and Troy, were cousins with the same Polish surname. Their fathers were as clear headed and big hearted as farmers and brothers could be, bless them. These three Polish brothers were also pretty dang smart in my opinion, because they recognized remarkable when they saw it–and each married a sister from the same Italian family.

The “Aunts” (as I was instructed to call them) Donna, Gina, and Jaye, cooked together most times and they were pros at making a lot out of a little.  Because of this, my friends never ate the school lunches and always had a little extra for me. It was as normal and routine as the bus pulling up at 7:15 each morning.

If I was lucky to be around at the right time, I could rope my way into being a part of the daily cooking, just by asking if I could help with the dishes. Sooner or later, there would be a tug on my elbow and I’d be given something more interesting to do.

Once I asked Aunt Donna if there were any Italians with red hair. She winked down at me and asked, “Sure. You have red hair, dontcha?!” I think I floated on that for a couple days.

melanzana all parmigiana

When I do Lidia’s Eggplant Parmesan, I make the following adjustments:

After salting, draining, and rinsing the eggplant, I put a tablespoon and a half of olive oil in a bowl, throw the eggplant in it, and mix until each piece is coated. I take each one and dip/dredge into my choice of breading.My favorite is a simple cornmeal, salt, pepper, and parmesan blend.  (If you are gluten-free, Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour is the perfect substitute.) Lay on a cookie sheet, bake at 350 for about 35mins, making sure to turn them over halfway through, and then continue with Lidia’s instructions.

Sometimes I add sausage to the tomato sauce and simmer while the eggplant is baking. If you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own by browning a pound of beef or pork with the spices listed in this recipe:

http://www.food.com/recipe/homemade-sausage-seasoning-blend-102718

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