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More Recipes from a Country House

Posted in Abruzzo, Caro Diario.(dear diary..), Country House Living, cucina, cucina povere, entertaining, recipes, slow food, the Mediterranean diet, Travel & customs, Uncategorized, and Upcoming Appearances

Days are filled with much to do here..from tending our little planning out the day’s meals using the freshest ingredients or should I say creating recipes around the ‘pick of the day’. Lots and lots of fresh tomatoes, fresh carrots,fresh parsley..all I need to add is  some red  garlic (from a town nearby-Sulmona) ….fresh eggplant..combine that with some locally produced fresh mozzarella and today will be a penne gratinate con melanzana (penne pasta baked with fresh eggplant). It is basically a layered eggplant parmigiana baked and made  with penne pasta…. the food is always real, uncomplicated and most importantly-delicious.

Not all tomatoes are created equal ..we have two types of that has a lot of liquid inside and the other that is ‘fleshy’ inside with little liquid..The fleshy ones are the best for sugo (sauce)..more flavorful..but they must be ripe and red to insure a sweet sauce arrives at the table.

The only thing that will take a bit of time is grilling the eggplant..but it is worth the extra flavor..

Baked Penne Pasta with Eggplant (Penne Gratinate con Melanzane)

1 lb of whole wheat penne pasta

1 lb of fresh,red ripe tomatoes for sauce

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

handful of fresh parsley leaves

1 fresh carrot

1 small stalk  celery with leaves on top

8 ounces fresh mozzarella

1/4 cup freshly grated parmigian-reggiano cheese

1 lb fresh eggplant

Wash clean and slice eggplant into 1/4” slices. Grill each slice with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly torn parsley leaves and set aside. Clean and filet tomatoes, remove seeds. Place 3 tablespoons olive oil and 2 cloves garlic in saute pan, saute for 1 minute or until garlic is just beginning to become golden. Place in  tomatoes, saute ,after 5 minutes place in cleaned whole carrot and one small stalk of celery,saute for approx 20 minutes or till most of the liquid has disappeared. Remove from heat. Set aside. Boil water for pasta and cook till al dente (should be approximately 11-12 minutes). Drain. Place in tomato sauce and toss lightly till all pasta is coated with tomato.

Cover baking dish with baking paper. Lightly drizzle olive oil on bottom of pan. Layer penne pasta, then layer of grilled eggplant slices, then some slices or torn pieces of fresh mozzarella, a sprinkling of parmigiana-reggiano cheese, and repeat. Top layer should be pasta topped with fresh mozzarella and grated cheese. Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven of 425 degrees and for place under broiler for another 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Serve with a Chianti or Montepulciano..

After a plate of this you will see the rest of your day or evening through rose colored glasses…’la vie en rose’….or a t least for a few hours while the flavors still linger…

For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition-winner of the Best Italian Cuisine Book in the USA

Appearances coming up:
Sept 9-12-Hudson Valley Wine Fest- Rhinebeck, NY, Dutchess County Fairgrounds. Maria Liberati and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking take center stage for 2 on stage cooking demos from the award winning book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions-2nd edition.  To attend or for sponsorship info email

October 3rd-Sacramento California, Sacramento Italian Cultural Center

October 14th-Lower Southampton Library, Featerville, Pa- Book Signing and Olive oil tasting

October 29-30-Philadelphia Gourmet Food & Wine Fest-Valley Forge Convention Center-Book signing and cooking demos for mMaria Liberati and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking

November 2nd-Franklin Lakes Public Library, Franklin Lakes, NJ 7 PM- Book Signing and cooking demo

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Designed by Brian Hanshaw

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