Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
I love this cookbook. I read it in the bathtub with a bottle of Vermentino. I read it on the couch, curled up with a Vermouth on the rocks (and a squished up orange slice!). Every page is stained with San Marzano tomatoes, anchovy paste, zabaglione, or olive oil. A lot of cookbooks and culinary personalities come and go, but get acquainted with the techniques and staples in this masterpiece and you’ll be in business. The braised celery with pancetta and onions! Her perfect bolognese! The section on pairing sauce to pasta shape is pure poetry. Buy this cookbook. Read it in bed. Cook a recipe a week.
A Recipe We Love:
What you'll need:
- About 1 pound eggplant
- Vegetable oil for frying the eggplant
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 ¾ cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
- Chopped red hot chili pepper, to taste
- 1 pound of thin spaghetti pasta
Step 1: Cook the Eggplant
Trim, peel and slice the eggplant. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow it to sit, drawing out moisture. After 15-30 minutes, thoroughly pat the eggplants dry with paper towels. In a large frying pan, heat 1.5" layer of oil. When the is hot—not smoking—add the eggplant and fry until golden brown color on one side. Flip the eggplants, and fry the other side. Do not turn them more than once. When both sides are done, use a slotted spoon or spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack to drain or to a platter, lined with paper towels.
Step 2: Prepare the Sauce
Add olive oil and garlic into a sauce pan, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook and stir the garlic until it becomes lightly colored, stirring consistently to avoid burning the garlic. Then, add the parsley, tomatoes, chili pepper, and salt—stir thoroughly. Adjust heat so that the sauce simmers steadily but gently, and cook for about 25 minutes, until the oil separates and floats free.
Step 3: Mix it All Together!
Cut the fried eggplant into about half inch cubes. Add to the sauce, cooking it for another 2-3 minutes, stirring periodically to allow the eggplant to reach sauce temperature. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Serve atop pasta and enjoy!