Tag Archives: Parmesan

Eggplant and Tomato Tian

This Provençal dish is a bright accompaniment to a grilled steak or lamb chop.  The term “tian” refers to both the earthenware dish in which the vegetables are cooked and the gratin of vegetables and cheese itself.

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (preferably Sicilian), thinly sliced

2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh basil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a round 9-inch ceramic tart pan.  Arrange the eggplant in a layer on the bottom of the dish, permitting the slices to overlap slightly.  Then add a layer of tomato and season with pepper.  Continue to layer in this fashion until you use all of the tomato and eggplant.  Top with another drizzle of olive oil, and bake covered with aluminum foil for 30 minutes.  Uncover, add the cheese, and bake for another 30 minutes until the vegetables are browned and the eggplant is tender.  Top with fresh basil and sea salt before serving.

Tian

Make the Most of Your Favorite Summer Herb with a Basil Pesto

During my Italian Lunch cooking class today, we made ricotta gnocchi with three sauces – marinara, pesto and butter sage.  While the marinara and butter sage sauces were quite delicious, the pesto made me appreciate the abundance of basil this time of year.  So, I share my recipe for basil pesto.

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Ingredients:

½ cup pignoli (pine nuts)

10 stalks of fresh basil

3 cloves of garlic

½ cup parmesan cheese

6 tablespoons of softened butter (yes, this recipe is a rich one!)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

Remove the basil leaves from the stalks and place them in a food processor.  Add the pine nuts, garlic, cheese and butter and blend until it forms a paste.  Add the olive oil little by little as well as the salt and pepper to taste while blending the other ingredients.  Be sure to use a spatula to push down any ingredients stuck to the sides of the food processor in between your processing.  Toss the pesto with gnocchi or your favorite pasta – a little goes a long way!

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Fiddleheads for Dinner

April marks the beginning of fiddlehead fern season.   This is the time of year to enjoy those lovely fern fronds before they unfurl – on your plate.   To celebrate the first sighting of fiddleheads this year (at Whole Foods), we decided to feature them with a risotto for last night’s dinner.

To prep the risotto, bring about 32 ounces of chicken stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Slice several cloves of garlic and cipollini onions and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil in a risotto pan. When the onions start to become translucent, stir in one cup of Arborio rice, coating the rice with the oil.

Onions cooking

Add a large ladle of stock to the rice to begin the absorption process. Keep the heat on medium low so as not to scorch the rice, and keep stirring with a large wooden spoon. Continue to add more stock ladle by ladle, and continue stirring for about 25 minutes or until the rice is not hard in the center.   In addition to the stock, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and some splashes of white wine or Prosecco for extra flavor.  When the rice is cooked, stir in half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, turn off the heat and cover.

Risotto Cooking

To prepare the fiddleheads, thoroughly rinse and cut off the ends of the stems. Blanch the fiddleheads by placing them in boiling water for a minute and then running them under cold water. Do not sauté the fiddleheads until the risotto is almost finished as they only take a few minutes – you want them to retain their crunchiness. Sauté the fiddleheads in extra virgin olive oil for about three minutes and add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I also added some Piment d’Espelette for some red color and mild heat.

Fiddleheads

To serve, spoon the risotto into a pasta bowl and top with the beautiful fiddleheads and crushed red pepper. This is a light, tasty dish that is fun to prepare – consider opening a bottle of red to aid in the stirring.

Risotto