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Entries in Italian recipe (2)

Wednesday
Mar262008

Eggplant Rollatini

This makes a delicious vegetarian entree or a filling side dish. You all know how to make risotto now - remember my risotto post? For this recipe, however, instead of making a saffron type risotto, I make it with a little tomato paste and very light beef broth. You can certainly use vegetable broth if you want to keep it a vegetarian dish. This dish is great because you can make it in the morning, or even the day before, refrigerate it and bring it to room temperature before baking.

There is a lot of debate with cooks about whether to salt eggplant or not. Some people claim that salting the eggplant before cooking helps get rid of any bitterness. Salt does help suppress bitterness in foods, this is true, but most people rinse off the salt before cooking. Actually, the main reason to salt eggplant is to help with the amount of oil the eggplant soaks up during cooking. If you have ever cooked eggplant, you know it can absorb an unbelievable amount of oil. That is because eggplant is full of tiny air pockets. It is actually just like a sponge. When you slice eggplant and then salt it before cooking, the salt draws out the moisture and helps collapse the air pockets, so it takes on a lot less oil. It is worth doing.

Eggplant Rolatini

 

 

This recipe makes 5 rollatini.

Ingredients:

For the Risotto:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 4 cups light beef broth (or vegetable broth), heated
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan

for the eggplant:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • oilve oil
  • marinara sauce

Instructions:

Heat a little olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the garlic and saute gently for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Add the rice and cook for about a minute more.

Start adding the warm broth and stir the risotto. Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, add a couple more ladles. Keep stirring for about 25 to 30 minutes. Take the risotto off the heat and add the cheese. Transfer to a bowl and let cool before assembling rollatini.

 


Slice the very ends off the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. You should have 5 slices for a large eggplant. Salt the slices heavily and place in a colander for about one hour. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and press with paper towels to dry.

Heat a grill or grill pan on the stove. Make sure it's hot before beginning. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on both sides until you have nice grill marks and the eggplant is pliable.

Place a little marinara sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish. Place some risotto all along the eggplant slices and roll up and place seam side down in baking dish. Top with marinara sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Wednesday
Mar192008

Italian Easter Bread


Buona Pasqua!  I've made this Easter bread for years for my kids. It's a sweet bread, made with milk and sugar and has an Easter Egg in the middle! There's a lot of Italian recipes for Easter breads, some are savory and some are sweet. This one is fun.

Italian Easter Bread


for a printer friendly recipe, click here
makes 6 individual loaves
Ingredients:
  • 1 package Rapid Rise yeast
  • 1.25 cups scalded milk, cooled to room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3.5 cups flour (approximate)
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
  • 6 dyed Easter eggs
  • sprinkles
 

tip: the Easter eggs do not need to be hard boiled. They cook when the bread bakes. I usually just dye the eggs right out of the fridge, without hardboiling them. Saves time. Just be careful they don't crack!

Instructions:

In a large mixer bowl, combine yeast, warm (not hot) milk, salt, butter, eggs and sugar. Add about half the flour and beat until smooth with dough hook.   Slowly add the remaining flour to form a stiff dough. Don't worry about how much flour it ends up being, just keep adding until the dough is not sticky anymore.  Knead until smooth with either dough hook attachment or turn out on floured board and knead. Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.

Punch dough down, divide into 12 pieces. Roll each piece to form a 1 inch thick rope about 14 inches long and, taking two pieces, twist to form a "braid", pinching the ends,  and loop into a circle.

Place on a greased baking sheet or line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cover and let rise until double, about an hour again. Brush each bread with beaten egg wash. Put on the sprinkles. In the middle of each bread ring, gently place an Easter egg, making an indentation with the egg.

Bake at 350 degrees until golden - about 20 - 25 minutes. Cool on rack.

 

** Note:  For an updated version of this bread, see my most recent Easter Bread post.  It's made with golden eggs and pearl sugar:


Another cute idea for Easter is making these Edible Egg Nests for your table:

 

 You might also like to try Italian Easter Torta (Torta Pasqualina):