Thursday, September 8, 2016

Summer Veggies With an Italian Twist

It's still summer .You can have still enjoy the harvests of the garden.There are still eggplants and tomatoes to cook into tasty sauces. Take advantage of the last blush of the season with tasty dishes.

Melissa Clark did so, writing about it in yesterday's New York Times Food section(despite the fact that it was the restaurant issue, there were some recipes). Her A Good Appetite column features a sauce rich in ripe eggplant and heirlooms tomatoes. Even a sauce made of just the last is a treat.
What is interesting is how she prepares them. Instead of dicing or cubing she grates the tomatoes on a standard box grate. This is an excellent way of getting the pulp and not the skin. The grater holes puree the flesh but stop at the skins, creating a nice pure mash.Ms. Clark then simmers it down with a a bit of olive oil, garlic  and chile.If it's cooked down a bit it becomes sofrito. It can be the base of any soup,stews and rice dishes. I can see it raw as a brushcetta - and the best part is that the tomatoes won't have to be blanched to remove the skins.The tomatoes used are the large heirloom ones but if need be , beefsteak, or better yet Roma tomatoes can stand in.

The second veggie, eggplant can be cooked while the tomatoes are being pureed. The kind used is the giant globe kind, those deep purple beauties that are gracing late summer gardens and farmer's markets right now.It was cubed , oiled and roasted in a 450 degrees Farenheit oven for 30 to 40 minute. Roasted with it are one or two frying or Italian banana peppers. The pasta she uses is campanelle or farfalle., the butterfly shaped ones. You could also use rigatoni or even bucatini if you'd like. Another fun spin is that Ms. Clark grates the garlic with a microplane to mince them (although you could you could just mince the cloves the old fashioned way- with a sharp knife).Capers are added for saltiness while  herbs are mixed in for brightness. Butter, not usually used in any tomato based sauce ,is  added - although it is optional.It does lend a nice richness to the sauce. The sauce  and eggplant are then mixed together with the pasta. Parmesan cheese is then sprinkled over it along with extra herbs and a drizzle of more olive oil.

It still is summer. Take advantage of its' harvests with a delicious sauce of  eggplants married to tomatoes.The flavor is ripe with garden flavors, a perfect taste of late summer.

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