Does the word “kitchen” bring to mind thoughts of fun and enjoyment to you? Most people I meet say no, that the kitchen is a place of drudgery. It’s probably right up there with the likes of ironing. Well, to me, the kitchen means fun!
Perhaps it’s the Italian half of my heritage, weaned on the classic home-style cooking of my mother, Rose. It’s growing up in a household where you could always smell the great aroma of simmering sauce or Nonna’s fresh baked bread.
It was a time far from the frozen, processed, and microwaved way of life today. It was a time when herbs were grown in our gardens and vegetables were picked fresh for the evening’s meal. I want to share with you some of my memories of those bygone days and show you how you, too, can bring back some of the pleasures that were meant for the kitchen.
I am not a dietician or licensed nutritionist, but I do know and enjoy good, healthy food. And I know how to have fun in the kitchen. Our fast-paced lifestyles and our busy schedules do not afford us much time to smell the roses, much less stir the sauce, but in both cases we should take the time. We are missing a lot of life by rushing through it.
My home-style recipes won’t have you slaving in the kitchen all day, but it will have you and your family spending more time together, sharing some conversation and a great meal. In these columns, I want to share some of my favorite recipes with you, recipes that I have gathered through the years and through hundreds of kitchens. Each kitchen was different because it belonged to someone else, but the results were all the same: a wonderful meal, carefully selected, and prepared for all to enjoy.
1 lb. Italian fontina cheese, sliced
¼ c. Balsamic vinegar
½ c. Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Thyme (dried)
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
12-16 Italian plum tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 c. Fresh basil (measure a firmly packed cup, then mince)
½ c. Italian leaf parsley (measure a firmly packed cup, then mince)
¼ c. Red onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. Capers
½ c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Prepare marinade and set aside. After trimming ends of eggplant, slice each into ¼” thick pieces.
Brush each slice thoroughly with marinade. Place slices in a large baking dish and pour remaining marinade over the top of them. Marinate for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight).
Prepare filling by mixing together all ingredients. Grill eggplant slices until tender . While warm, prepare “sandwiches” by placing a slice of cheese on a piece of grilled eggplant.
Spoon filling over the cheese and top with a second slice of eggplant. If desired, cut in quarters (secure layers with a toothpick) and top with more tomato mixture.