Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Something a little different, a little like everything else

It's rare for us to go out to eat Italian food. We did the other day when were randomly in Capitol Hill with J's dad. We stopped by one of his old haunts in his old hood, Palermo, which i have just discovered is in Ballard as well (cool!). Palermo serves pretty basic but reliable Italian fare and has better than average pizza. They also serve vegetarian dish that seems to make J happy. He ordered it the other day and it occurred to me that not only could I easily make it, I wouldn't mind eating it. I took my best guess at the recipe and this is what I came up with. Not exactly what you get there, but J seemed to like it just fine.

Vegetable Parmesan

3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp marjoram
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 cups lowfat ricotta cheese
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
4-6 slices fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium eggplant, sliced
1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced
1 red bell pepper

Slice eggplant and spread out on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes or more. This will drawn out some of the moisture as well as get rid of some of the eggplant's bitterness.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil till just soft. Add spices and cook for 2 minutes to release flavor. Add tomatoes and vinegar, cover and let simmer over medium low heat for 10-15 minutes.

In a bowl combine Ricotta cheese, spices and garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a 8"x 8" baking dish spoon enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan about 1/2" deep.

Using your broiler, roast the zucchini and the bell pepper by spreading them out on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and place under a broiler for 5 -10 minutes. Allow them to brown but do not cook thoroughly (they will cook more in the casserole). Rinse the eggplant. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat and brown eggplant on each side. Lay pan fried eggplant out in the dish. Spread ricotta cheese over the eggplant. Layer zucchini and red pepper over the cheese. Cover with marinara sauce and top with mozzarella slices. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until heated through.

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