Vesuvius Rigatoni

I have not had a food crush like this in a while. I was watching a tv show about Italian street food and saw this dish and cooked it the next day. I even found a recipe for it online in Italian and translated it to English to find out what exactly was in this dish. I didn’t make the recommended sauces for it (in small part because I didn’t have tomatoes from the foothills of Mount Vesuvius) so I topped it with Julie’s Pasta Sauce. Also, they originally baked these at 300 degrees in aluminum tins lined with plastic wrap but I just used a 6-count nonstick muffin tin instead and it worked great. I’m still very unsure about the whole plastic-wrap-in-the-oven-thing. I tried researching the details about such a thing with inconclusive results. Ok, back to the fun part. To make this dish you will need to dice up a log of fresh mozzarella, mix together grean peas and ricotta cheese (I ended up using about 8 oz.), make mini meatballs (I made simple mini turkey meatballs by combining 1lb. lean ground turkey, one egg, breadcrumbs to texture, garlic powder, salt, and freshly ground black pepper), and boil large rigatoni pasta for 4 minutes. Trust the four minute cooking time and do not worry about stopping the cooking process of the pasta once drained. 4 minutes is perfect.

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Eggplant Parmesan

This is the perfect healthy and simple eggplant parm recipe! I start by peeling sections of the whole eggplant lengthwise so that you end up with an eggplant that has vertical stripes of skin. I do this so that when you eat the finished eggplant the skin does not come off in one piece although this shouldn’t really happen if it is cooked properly. Anyways, I enjoy eating it this way… some skin… not too much skin.

Next, cut the eggplant into medallions. Dip them into an egg-wash and then coat with a breadcrumb mixture. For this dish, I like to mix equal parts Italian and Panko breadcrumbs. I also add garlic powder, salt, and an extra dash of Italian seasoning to the breadcrumb mixture. Once breaded, the eggplant goes on a rack on top of a cookie sheet and in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25min.

When baking eggplant parm, the single most important tip is to place it on a rack so that it browns easily, you don’t need to add any oil, and it does not become mushy. The rack is key. Finally, I add a slice of fresh mozzarella to the top during the last 5 minutes of baking. I ate this a few nights ago on top of spaghetti squash and sauce. SO good.