(Photo credits : http://www.mets-de-provence.fr)
Have you ever had a ‘voglio’? A voglio is the way Italians express a strong desire for something- someone that you love, a food, a dish, an experience. One way to say I love you is ‘te voglio bene’- which literally translated means I desire you very much. Or as the students text the abbreviation t.v.b.(te voglio bene) to each other.
Well enough for our Italian lesson.
Today I had a strong ‘voglio’ for eggplants. There are eggplants everywhere you go since this is their season for the next few weeks and they are grown everywhere. The farm markets are filled with them.
The dish I selected to make for ‘pranzo’ (lunch) was Ratatouille of eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. But to be worthy of a ‘voglio’ thsi dish must be made with the freshest and best ingredients. There are only a few ingredients in this dish and each one is important.
Let’s start with the tomatoes. I used fresh San Marzano tomatoes (by the way these tomatoes deserve a t.v.b.all to themselves. They are as sweet as candy and if you ever need a reason to visit Italy- one of those would be to taste a fresh San Marzano tomato grown in Italy-nothing like it.) However if you can’t get fresh San Marzano tomatoes use a fresh plum tomato that is red and ripe. If you must use canned, use only a high quality canned tomato (but only as a last resort).
Olive oil- use a good quality extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil from Italy. If you use anything less this dish will not be a success.
Mozzarella cheese- usea freshly made mozzarella
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese-use only parmigiano-reggiano cheese-don’t use anything that is called anything else- parmesan is not real parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Fresh zucchini, eggplant, onion- these vegetables should be very fresh, eggplants and zucchini should be firm. Buy your produce locally from a local farm is possible to insure freshness.
Ratatouille of Zucchini and Eggplant
*2 medium fresh eggplants
*3 medium size zucchini
*5 fresh plum tomatoes
*2 cloves of garlic
*3 tblsps of olive oil
*1 slice of fresh onion chopped
*pinch of salt
* 1/2 cup dry white wine
*4 ounces of fresh mozzarella
*3 tblsps parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Wash eggplant and zucchini. Cut zucchini into 1/4 inch slices. Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch cubes. Wash tomatoes. Filet them by removing inside liquid and seeds. Slice into thin slices.
In large saute pan, heat olive oil. Saute whole garlic cloves, chopped onions till golden. place in cut eggplants and zucchini and 1/2 cup dry white wine, 1/2 cup water. Saute for 10 minutes, stirring. Add in tomatoes, stirring and saute for another 10 minutes or until eggplant and zucchini are tender. If at any time liquid is needed add in a little water.
When done remove from heat and add in cubed mozzarella and grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Stir, mozzarella cheese will become stringy. Serve warm or cool. Either way this is a delicious dish for a summer day. Serve with grissini sticks and dry white wine. We had some Falenghina (one of my favorite white wines) with this dish.
For more recipes get your copy of the bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com