DECEMBER 10 2011


I know dishes from an Italian cookbook aren't exactly traditional, but I am taking any opportunity possible to cross off recipes, so today Thanksgiving went Italian! I chose a couple recipes I thought would fit nicely with the turkey and stuffing, and I think these were quite appropriate.

The crostini is very simple. Brush sliced baguette with parsley oil, toast, then top with a dollop of ricotta cheese, a sprinkle of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. I felt like being extra fancy, so I decided to make the ricotta myself. I've done it before with pretty good success and it's not a difficult thing. I did try a new method: heating the milk in the microwave instead of on the stove top. Everything went quite well except I somehow ended up with way less finished cheese than I expected.

fresh homemade ricotta

So what if each crostini might have been shorted a little on toppings, they were still delicious. The soft, creamy cheese was perfect with the bite of the baguette and a little crunch from the sea salt. We had hours to wait until dinner so snacks were necessary and these disappeared quickly.

ricotta crostini

Now to turn my attention to the sweet-and-sour eggplant. The simplicity of this dish has the 8 hour eggplant marinara beat by a mile! I prepped everything the day before so I didn't have to worry about it at dinner. But really, the prep for this dish is ridiculously easy. First make a simple caramel of sugar and water; let bubble until light amber. Stir in vinegar then a can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes, sliced garlic, olive oil and salt. This simmers 30 minutes, and it's done. Meanwhile, slice and roast 2 eggplants for 20 minutes until softened.

light amber caramel

roasted eggplant

Then today, just before the second turkey was pulled from the hot oil, I layered the eggplant in the bottom of a baking dish and smothered it with sweet-and-sour tomato sauce. That's it. Bake 20 minutes then sprinkle with grated ricotta salata and chopped mint. Done. Eat!

eggplant smothered in sweet-and-sour tomato sauce

Now the stars of the evening were obviously the turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes... yummmmmm. But this was also an excellent dish. I will admit that my little scoop of eggplant almost disappeared under all the other amazing food, but I made sure to give it special attention. Really good. Not too rich which countered many of the other things on my plate. A subtle sweet-and-sour tang, not overpowering. I think this may be the best eggplant recipe in the book, taking flavor and convenience into account. Will be making this one again!

last bite.. who gets it?

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