When my dad died, my mom cleaned out the house because we thought we were going to move. In this cleaning and packing, she started paring down her cookbook collection (something of which she never uses anyway) and asked me if I wanted to pick through it. I found a few treasures in there! One of the books I discovered was an old 1970’s, bright orange book on authentic Italian cooking by region. Italian food. is. my. weakness.
In this project, I am determined to use all my cookbooks; so I thought I’d crack into this one. I was a bit more apprehensive in this endeavor to begin with. I love Italian food and it loves me. It sticks around no other place than my midsection as if there were no other place on earth it’d rather be. It’s alarmingly easy to put on and devilishly hard to pry off. Away I went anyway, determined to enjoy it and make it easier on my conscience and figure.
I paged through it a couple of times since it was hard to understand. The book is set up by region instead of by course. Yikes! I finally settled on an eggplant recipe from the region of Puglia. Where was this cooking in Italy when all I could find was pizza everywhere?!
The ingredients were simple and the preparation seemed so. I gathered all the ingredients together, but had to substitute almonds (as the recipe called for either almonds or pine nuts, aka pignolis, and the grocery was out of pine nuts) for pignolis. The instructions started out easy then became more vague. For instance, I was to brown the eggplant skin in 3 Tb. of olive oil after coring?! Eggplant skins are dark purple! So I just flipped them over & cooked the open side until the inside was mushy. Then I was to cook it with the filling for about 30 minutes. First of all, it called for 3 eggplants. Second of all, 6 eggplant halves were not gonna fit even in my biggest of skillets. So I broke out my Pirex baking dishes and preheated the oven to 325. I placed the filled eggplant halves in the Pirex and basted the meat with the tomato sauce and baked them for 30 minutes. Perfect!
With a few substitutions due to super-market lack and healthy intentions, I produced a vegetable, meat entrée that was yummy to look at, but in essence was a healthier, softer form of meatloaf. I was amused and guessed that no matter where you go, food has the same roots. It was tasty however, and with the addition of parmesan over top it became quite a good lunch since lunch at school is usually busy for me.
Recipe to be included at a later time as I have loaned the book to a friend in her quest to make an Italian dessert for Ladies’ night at the church.
(Update 12/5/18: Said friend lost the book shortly thereafter, so no recipe can be included. I hold out hope that one day I will find another copy… I believe it was part of the Culinary Arts Institute’s Adventures in Cooking series… If you see a copy, give me a shout!)