Chiuso! Chiuso! Chiuso! The words are uttered after each thing is turned off ..the gas, the electric, the doors locked… I heard those words as I stood outside the door of our beach house. The words I hear every year as I am preparing to leave the beach house…everything is being turned off till the next time. Next time is usually next summer… but sometimes if the winter is mild a quick visit in the winter is the next visit..
But those words chiuso, chiuso, chiuso in succession always bring thoughts of years past as I stand in the hallway of the condominium waiting for everything to be turned off realizing that another summer has passed and my Holiday at the beach has finished..always a whirlwind of fun but ‘sempre’ (always) passing too quickly..
Lunches filled with all the fresh produce from nearby farms quickly pass through my mind. From the local tomatoes used for fresh sugo for ultimate pasta dishes to the fresh figs eaten simply or used in ricotta tortes.
Either way my memories at the beach house are filled with flavor.
Here is one of my favorite memories a pasta dish made with fresh tomatoes grown in Francavilla,they are the ultimate for sauce and fresh eggplant from a local farm.
Timballo con Melanzane- (Eggplant Casserole)
From The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions- 2nd edition)
- 1 scallion
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small diced eggplant
- (optional) ½ pound ground beef
- 2 pounds red ripe tomatoes
- pinch of salt
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons milk
- ¼ pound scamorza cheese
- 4 tablespoons Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
- (optional) 2 thin slices prosciutto ham
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
Finely chop scallion. Warm 1 tablespoon in saute pan. Place in scallion and eggplant. If using ground beef, place into saute as well. Saute until all uniform in color. Cut, pee land seed tomatoes. Add this to eggplant mixture. Cook for about 1 hour over moderate heat, mixing every so ofte nand add in a pinch of salt.
Cook pasta until al dente. In small saucepan, place flour ,butter and milk whisk with wire whisk until it makes a smooth sauce (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat. Drain pasta, return to pot and pour ½ of tomato sauce in. and ½ of beschamel sauce. Set aside.
Cover round cake pan with baking paper and use remaining olive oil to oil paper. Place in 1 layer of pasta, then cover with sliced scamorza cheese, prosciutto, grated cheese, finely chopped parsley and some sauce. Continue layering this way until all ingredients are used. Finish with a layer of cheese on top. Cook in oven for 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from pan. Serve with chopped parsley and grated parmigina-reggiano cheese.
For more recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking: Holidays & Special Occasions- 2nd edition