Monday, June 7, 2010

What's in Season? Titina Goes Shopping--

This week in Titina's kitchen--bags from the State Farmers Market. Like most Italian cooks, Titina builds her meals around fresh, local ingredients. And as summer produce begins to fill the North Carolina Farmers Market in Raleigh, she's there several times a week.

What's this seasoned (and very picky) Italian chef buying this week? Ripe peaches, tomatoes and eggplants.

Titina loves eggplants. Brought to Italy centuries ago by the Arabs, this purple skinned vegetable is prized in the cooking of Southern Italy where the climate suites it perfectly.

"Use fresh," says Titina. Her eggplants never sit around in the frig. She salts and drains them for several hours--then whips them into something delicious.

Here's the link to her popular Eggplant Parmesan Recipe. Another cooking class favorite is Titina's Peperoni Saltati--a combination of summer eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and sprinkle of fresh basil. Here's the recipe.

Peperoni Saltati
Bell Pepper Saute

2 large eggplants
3 red bell peppers (or 1 jar roasted peppers)
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves garlic
1 ½ lb. tomatoes; peeled and chopped or 1 can Cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh basil; chopped
1 Tbsp. capers
8 pitted black olives; roughly chopped
1 cup croutons
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4; Preparation: 20 minutes; Cooking: 1 ½ hours; Level of difficulty: Medium

Cut the eggplant into cubes and the peppers into strips. Sprinkle with salt and place on a slanted cutting board to drain for 30 minutes.
Sauté the garlic in 3 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until garlic is a pale gold color. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, capers, and olives. Cook over medium heat until the tomatoes start to separate.
Dry the eggplant and peppers with paper towels. Place the remaining olive oil in a large skillet and fry the eggplant and peppers a little at a time until golden brown. Once all of the eggplant and peppers are fried, place everything, including the tomato mixture back into the frying oil. Stir in the croutons and sprinkle with fresh basil.


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