Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Cooking Tip of the Week (February 25, 2016)

Posted by William Abruzzo on February 25, 2016 at 12:05 AM

In Recipes that Call for Fried Eggplant, Try Roasting it Instead! 


       Frying is a common preparation for eggplant. However, the spongy flesh of eggplant tends to absorb much of the oil during the frying process. This means that many eggplant dishes can be greasy. One solution, of course, is to dip the eggplant in a protective coating of egg and breadcrumbs. But what if your recipe doesn’t call for breading? For dishes such as caponata, ratatouille, eggplant rollitini, and spaghetti alla norma (eggplant and tomatoes), roasting is the solution. Here is how it is done.


       Slice the eggplant lengthwise into½ inch thick pieces, brush them lightly with olive oil and season them with salt and black pepper. Place the eggplant on a baking tray that has also been lightly brushed with olive oil or sprayed with cooking spray. Roast the eggplant in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes and then flip the eggplant and continue roasting for another 10 to 15 minutes or until soft and golden on both sides. Then, cut the eggplant slices into cubes and add them to your ratatouille, dress them with your caponata sauce or toss them with spaghetti and diced tomatoes. You can also leave them whole and wrap them up with ricotta in the center for a delicious eggplant rollitini.


       Roasting the eggplant is quick and easy, alleviates the mess and hassle of frying, and saves you a whole lot of olive oil. It is also a healthy and delicious way to cook. Roasting allows caramelization which brings out the sweetness of the eggplant and develops its wonderful flavor.

Categories: Cooking Tips, Vegetable Dishes

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Reply Iron chef Joe
12:18 AM on February 27, 2016 
Roasting vegetables is so much easier and healthier for you. Enjoy your recipes.
Reply mariabella
12:57 AM on February 26, 2016 
Bill, just want to congratulate you on your new cookbook. I am a big fan of yours and can't wait for it to come out so I can purchase it. Good luck!!
Reply mariabella
12:43 AM on February 26, 2016 
Roasting the eggplant brought out the true flavor of it. This is a great alternative to breading and frying it.

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I offer private cooking classes for up to six people. Cooking classes are held in my home on Saturday evenings. I specialize in all aspects of Italian regional cuisine, including soups, vegetables, pasta, risotto, meat, seafood and desserts. I will design a cooking class around whatever interests you –whether it is a specific recipe you wish to learn or a skill such as pasta-making. For more details, please take a minute to become a member of my website and contact me via internal email at . 

Bill's Cooking Tip of the Month

Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients

 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

Just Picked From My Italian Vegetable Garden!

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My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

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