Zucchini Parmesan Assembled Raw – No Frying (Parmigiana di Zucchine) Like Eggplant Parmesan but with Zucchine

pesto tops this cheesy dish

Do you know that we actually spell Zucchini wrong in America? In Italian one Zucchini is “una zucchina” so plural is ” Zucchine” Just thought you should know lol.

This is a great easy alternative to eggplant parmesan especially when you have zucchini coming out your ears like I do! My cheese man gave me a bag of zucchini and zucchini flowers which I stuffed with cheese and anchovy , dipped in batter and fried- even though I dislike frying these are so worth it! They disappeared in a nanosecond! Stay tuned for that recipe. You can make ahead and refrigerate for 3 days or freeze then bake when needed.

The most work in this recipe is slicing the zucchini but if you have a mandoline it’s easy and fast. I add a layer of thinly sliced mortadella because it’s so good here and the deli slices it thin for me. You can leave it out to make it vegetarian or use ham, speck or prosciutto.

zucchini thinly sliced with a mandolin
mortadella layer
sheet of mozzarella (it was too much so i used strips of it
scamorza obtained from the deli here in Manfredonia

Ingredients:

1 pound zucchini or about 3 zucchini thinly sliced by mandolin if possible

2 cups grated mozzarella or your favorite cheese – gruyere would be yum

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil

6 slices mortadella (optional) can use ham, prosciutto or speck

fresh basil leaves – a handful

salt and fresh cracked pepper

Method:

heat oven to 350F 180C

drizzle an 8×8 or 9×13 pan with EVOO – extra virgin olive oil – (if you want it taller use the smaller pan and make more layers)

cover it with slices of zucchini even overlapping

sprinkle with salt and pepper

sprinkle a fourth of each cheese

add a slice of mortadella or as much needed to cover

repeat layers finishing with cheese on top and scattered basil leaves (save some fresh leaves for after baking

bake for about 40 minutes or until bubbling and top is golden.

Let sit at least 15 minutes for it to settle before cutting and serving

note: the raw zucchini exudes a lot of water so the longer you cook it the more it will evaporate out.

Amazing Roasted Eggplant Parmesan! bonus – it’s Gluten and Lactose Free!!

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

oh so tasty olive oil infused eggplant
pure delicious and clean!

Since eggplant (melanzane) season is just beginning I decided to create a baked eggplant parm I actually like that’s not fried. Here in Puglia they say to be good it has to be fried but I disagree (don’t tell them that) . Here in Puglia their version differs from Rome, Florence and Como where we’ve also lived. They use a rich meat sauce (ragu) and ham or mortadella and of course they fry each slice of eggplant after dipping in bread crumbs and egg. I have tried it every which way and I actually prefer this new method the most. I tested it on my husband and he gave me the thumbs up which is huge since he is born and raised Italian and tends to prefer his traditional foods.

To salt or not to salt: I have been researching this for years and my conclusion is that if you use this method with good fresh smallish eggplants there is no need to salt. I’ve also been told by farmers that the modern varieties don’t require it as they don’t contain the bitter juices.

Interesting Food Trivia : Italian food experts suggest that the name Parmigiana Melanzane has nothing to do with parmigiano cheese or Parma the city, but derives from the Sicilian palmigiana not parmigiana, meaning “shutters,” the louvered panes of shutters or palm-thatched roofs that the layered eggplant slices are meant to resemble. Isn’t that great? Didn’t you always wonder about the name?

This eggplant Parmesan is lighter than most except for the olive oil , and the eggplant flavor actually shines through as it’s layered with the delicious ‘5 minute tomato sauce’ (see recipe on blog or use your own favorite). I will confess that living amidst olive trees in the olive oil capital of Italy I don’t skimp on using that liquid gold. It’s not too cheesy but has the just right amount and its mostly on top so it can develop that irresistible golden crust. Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses are bursting with flavor so you don’t even miss the usual mozzarella. That also makes it lactose free.

Before you head to the grocery store, here are some tips on choosing great eggplant. Be sure to choose eggplants that are smooth and shiny, with no dents or mushy parts. They should feel heavy for their size. If possible, choose eggplants that are on the smaller side. Large eggplants tend to contain more seeds, which have an annoying texture. Then be sure to turn that eggplant into eggplant Parm subito, since overripe eggplant tastes bitter.

Eggplant notoriously absorbs oil like a sponge, so you’ll want to brush oil onto the eggplant rather than drizzling it on. 

RECIPE

prep time 20 minutes, cook time 45 minutes with 20 minute rest

This Italian-style eggplant Parmesan recipe is lighter than most—it’s made with roasted eggplant slices (not fried) and no breading at all. It’s gluten free, too! Recipe yields one 9-inch square eggplant Parm, or about 8 servings.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds eggplants (about 3 smallish or 2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup  extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 4 ounces freshly grated or sliced pecorino cheeses(about 1 cup) I use a mixture of Pugliese Roman and Tuscan pecorino cheeses
  • 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  • for the tomato sauce: https://janesitaliankitchen.com/2016/03/22/1-minute-tomato-sauce-that-tastes-great/

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. To roast the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two large rimmed, baking sheets with parchment paper for easy cleanup.
  2. Slice off both rounded ends on one eggplant, then stand it up on its widest flat side. Slice through the eggplant vertically to make long, even slabs ¼- to ½-inch-thick. Discard both of the sides that are covered in eggplant skin. Repeat with the other eggplant(s).
  3. Brush both sides of the eggplant slabs lightly with olive oil (you’ll likely need about ¼ cup oil). Arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the top sides with a few dashes of salt and pepper. Roast until golden and tender, about 22 to27 minutes—halfway through baking, rotate the pans 180 degrees and swap their positions (move pan on lower rack to upper rack, and vice versa). The pan on the lower rack might need a few extra minutes in the oven to turn golden. Set aside. 
  4. When you’re ready to assemble, spread about ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of an 9 or 9 inch square pan. Arrange about one-third of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly (cut them to fit, if necessary). Spoon another ¾ cup of the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with ¼ cup parmesan cheese.
  5. Arrange about half of the remaining eggplant slices evenly on top. Spread another ¾ cup sauce on top and sprinkle with ¼ cup parmesan cheese. Layer the remaining eggplant slices on top and top with ¾ cup sauce (you might have a little left over) and the remaining pecorino cheese. Evenly sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
  6. Bake on the lower rack, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes to give it time to set, then chop and sprinkle additional basil on top. Slice with a sharp knife and serve.
  7. Leftovers keep well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. Reheat before serving.
  8. Can be prepared ahead: chill for up to 2 days or freeze then bake as above adding about 15 minutes

What’s the difference between Polenta & Grits?

grits charleston
Charleston Stone ground Grits at Kitchen 208 with roasted okra

GRITS AND POLENTA

Many folks ask us to define the differences between grits and polenta. As we noted, most grits, in the American South, are traditionally made from dent corn. In Italy, most polenta is made from flint corn. Italians began to cultivate flints from the Caribbean around 1500 and developed a then new European foodway, polenta di mais, or cornmeal mush.

When milled and cooked to similar forms, flint holds its particle texture longer than dent. Hence the famous beading texture and palate “grip” of properly made polenta. Flints also have different basic flavor profiles when compared in similar cookery to dents. Flints possess more mineral and floral notes, dents more “corn” flavor upfront, followed by supporting floral and mineral notes.

This contrast begets a broader discussion of polenta, grits, cornmeal, and mush. Are they just different forms of the same basic food idea? Yes and no, depending upon whom you ask. According to many food historians and the USDA, all forms of milled dry corn are some iteration of cornmeal, and all foods cooked from any of these forms are an iteration of mush.

Polenta, according to historians and the USDA, can be made from any corn and milled to any state using any milling equipment and technique from coarse “grits-like” texture to fine flour. But all of us at Anson Mills know something about 17th and 18th century European reduction milling techniques—and how that changes the game. At its introduction to Italian farming, polenta di mais was regarded as animal feed and milled in any fashion. Yes, the original forms of cooked polenta were no more than congealed porridge. But a century later, the reduction milling techniques used by Italians to make polenta di mais—when resources were available—determined polenta’s unique characteristics. In this process, corn was milled slowly to large pieces, then those large particles were passed though the mill again to make them smaller, and again to make them smaller still, until the desired uniform particle size was achieved. Reduction milling yields grist of extremely uniform particles for even cooking. And because reduction milling produces less milling heat, the flavor and texture in hard flint corn is preserved.

At the hand of Italian artisans and their quest for precision, polenta di mais evolved from multiple-pass reduction milling. American cornmeal and grits, in contrast, evolved as a contest to mill corn easily and get it into the pot with utmost speed. Nearly all corn milling in pre-industrial America was single pass, yielding grist with a wide range of particle sizes. American millers were derided in Europe for being impatient “single pass” technicians. Ultimately, when one comparespolenta di mais to grits, cornmeal, or corn flour, it is reduction milling that sets polenta apart visually, texturally, and even in terms of flavor. Predominantly made from otto file, or eight-row flint over the last few centuries, polenta di mais in Italy (and at Anson Mills) has a different flavor profile, a different finished mouthfeel, and a different textural makeup than mush made from Southern heirloom dent, coarse cornmeal, or grits. Simply, we grow Italian heirloom corns and mill them with 17th and 18th century European artisan techniques to achieve the various heritage forms of polenta di mais.

So if you were wondering whether at Anson Mills polenta, grits, cornmeal, or corn flour are all the same thing, the answer is an emphatic NO. Elsewhere, with the exception of the best farms and mills in Italy, all bets are off.

 

 

 

click here for more info and to buy heirloom grits, polenta and other corn products

http://www.ansonmills.com/grain_notes/13

9 Minute 1 Pot Pasta from Italy – No Kidding!

9 minute 1 pan pasta!

Check out my Instagram italianjanefood!

Read the story here!  This trick comes from a town in Puglia 30 minutes from where we lived 2 years ago!  I tried it and it really works! The great thing about this method is you retain the starchy goodness of the pasta water to result in a creamy sauce without any added cream.  Just the stirring of the pasta with sauce ingredients creates this delectable sauce that coats the noodles perfectly. This technique of stirring pasta with the sauce in the final step of making  pasta is a known method to expert Italian chefs ; but this 1 pot idea is a new one to me!!  The links have other variations of the same recipe like sausage and broccoli etc.

http://food52.com/blog/13936-the-late-night-in-puglia-that-gave-us-martha-stewart-s-one-pan-pasta-7-new-ones

http://www.marthastewart.com/978784/one-pan-pasta
INGREDIENTS

12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
DIRECTIONS

Combine pasta, tomatoes, onion, garlic, red-pepper flakes, basil, oil, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and water in a large straight-sided skillet. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide among 4 bowls, and garnish with basil. Serve with oil and Parmesan.