There's been a lot going on around here! It seems like we haven't had much time at home because of all our out of town trips on the weekends. All fun stuff, though. I just have to share a couple of the highlights with you. First of all, our oldest son graduated from college and I still can't get used to the idea. It was a great weekend in Chicago, with dinners at Anteprima, Va Pensiero and what turned out to be everyone's favorite - Uncommon Ground. I'm going to be highlighting a cocktail we had in Chicago that we loved. I'll post about that next time. Here is my Northwestern graduate with his brothers. We are so proud!
Nick, Barry and Nathan
This past weekend we headed up to Charlevoix for my mother-in-law, Mary's, 70th birthday party. My sister-in-law organized the party and rented a beautiful yacht out of Bay Harbor for the festivities. All the grandchildren were able to make it and it was a great time.
Mary and Barry on the boat
My family on the boat - me, Nathan, Brian, Nick and Barry
On to this post's recipe. As a food blogger, I get sent a lot of cookbooks from publishers and authors to review. Some of them are great and some of them are just okay. This book, "The Italian Farmer's Table", I really loved.
The authors, Melissa Pellegrino and Matteo Scialaba, spent a lot of time researching the food for this book. They spent time at thirty agriturismi throughout Italy - farms where you can stay and observe farm life while enjoying authentic regional cooking and accomodations. These two have serious food credentials - they both graduated from the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan and Melissa attended culinary schools in Florence. Melissa also studied pizza and bread making at the famed Sullivan Street Bakery and they both spent years living in Italy and working and cooking on organic farms. Check out their excellent web site. This book is full of great regional recipes and I've been wanting to write about one of them for a while now. It was hard to pick one recipe because I love so many of them.
This recipe is for plum tomatoes stuffed with ricotta cheese, eggplant, and onion and topped with cheese and bread crumbs and baked. So good. I think it's a great side dish and my mother-in-law had the idea of using it as an appetizer, which would be great if you used smaller tomatoes. Wouldn't a big platter of these look nice at a cookout this summer? The original recipe uses green bell peppers, which is about the only vegetable I think you should never eat, so I substituted red bell pepper. Use what you prefer. You will love this dish.
Tomatoes Stuffed with Ricotta, Eggplant and Pepper
for a printable recipe, click here
from "The Italian Farmer's Table"
(this recipe is cut in half from the one in the book)
- 5 plum tomatoes
- 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 red onion, cut into medium dice
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
- 1/2 small eggplant, cut into medium dice
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino cheese
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped oregano
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C)
Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and flesh, reserving 1/4 cup for the filling. Salt the insides of the tomatoes and turn them over to drain excess water.
Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to a medium size skillet and add the red onion and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and the eggplant and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved tomato flesh with a bit of the juices and saute for another 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
Place the ricotta, eggs, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, the grated pecorino cheese, 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, herbs and vegetable mixture in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Puree ingredients until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Stuff tomatoes with the filling, using a spoon or a pastry bag without a tip and place stuffing side up on an oiled baking dish. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender and the filling is golden brown. Can be served immediately or at room temperature. The tomatoes can be made a day in advance and gently reheated.