I am fortunate to live near a farm that grows these beautiful, round Italian heirloom eggplants. This variety is a plump, tear-drop- shaped eggplant with rosy lavender skin and alabaster flesh. The meaty and firm yet tender flesh has a delicate mild flavor and a creamy consistency with no bitterness. Rosa Bianca has few seeds, making it the perfect variety for grilling and baking.
Baked Eggplant Stacks
1 Rosa Bianca Eggplant, about 1 ½ lb.
½ cup flour
3 egg whites beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
2 cups Italian seasoned Panko crumbs
1 large beefsteak or heirloom tomato, about 1 lb
6 Fresh Mozzarella slices
6 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
¼ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Pour the ¼ cup olive oil into a large rimmed rectangular sheet pan.
Peel the eggplant and slice into six 1/2-inch-thick circles.
Dip the eggplant slices into the flour, then the egg white mixture and finally the crumbs, tossing around to make sure the crumbs adhere. Place the breaded eggplant on a plate and refrigerate for an hour or two.
Put the sheet pan with the oil in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven (with oven mitts) and arrange the eggplant on the hot pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the pieces over and bake another 10 minutes or until they’re golden on the other side.
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Put a tomato slice on top of each eggplant slice, then a basil leaf on each and top each with a slice of mozzarella. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese melts.
Tomatoes with Herbed Ricotta
Use beautiful heirloom tomatoes that are in season now along with lots of fresh herbs.
For two servings:
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 scallion, white and green parts, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced\
1 large heirloom tomato, about 1 lb
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves, plus extra for garnish
Fleur de sel
In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, scallions, dill, chives, parsley, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside for up to 30 minutes.
Slice the tomato into ¼ inch thick slices. You should get 4 slices. Place on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let drain for 30 minutes. When ready to serve, place the tomato slices on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil. Spread ¼ of the ricotta mixture over each tomato slice. Sprinkle with reserved basil and fleur de sel, and serve at room temperature.
Old Fashioned Vidalia Onion Pie
Vidalia onions are in season now. They are a sweet, mild onion grown in Georgia. Vidalias can be used in place of any yellow onion, but their flavor is so special that you can really let them be the star of the show, such as this Vidalia Onion tart.
One 9-inch pastry crust:
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water
Whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. This can be done right in the pie pan if you like. Whisk together the oil and water, then pour over the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Pat the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers, and flute the top. Fill and bake.
2 large Vidalia onions, diced
1/4 cup butter
8 oz cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 eggs, beaten well
1 cup whole milk
Saute the onions in butter over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until golden brown. This will take 40 to 45 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper.
Preheat oven to 350°F Line a baking sheet and place the pastry-lined pie pan on the baking sheet to help with transferring in and out of the oven.
Spread half the cheddar cheese over the bottom crust and top the cheese with the cooked onions.
In a measuring cup, whisk the eggs together with the milk and ½ teaspoon of salt, then pour it over the onion mixture. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.
Plums are generally in season somewhere in the United States from the end of May all the way into October. Not only are they good for eating out of hand, but they are an excellent fruit for baking, such as this crostata recipe below. Crostata is the Italian term, and Galette is the French term for a rustic dessert that consists of a rolled out piece of pastry dough and the edges of the dough are folded in about an inch or so over the filling.
Pie pastry for one 9-inch pie
2 tablespoons orange marmalade
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon cream
2 tablespoons coarse sugar
Slice the plums into thin wedges.
Roll pie dough out to a 12-inch circle on a sheet of parchment paper. Slide the parchment onto a sheet pan. Spread marmalade on the center of the tart; then fan around the wedges of plums, leaving a 1-inch border. Fold the pie crust dough edge over onto the plums.
Drizzle honey over plums, brush pie crust dough edge with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 375 degrees F until fruit is tender and crust is cooked on the underside, about 25 to 30 minutes.
The history of southern tomato pie is largely based on conjecture. Some accounts point to 19th century Shaker recipes for pies with ripe tomatoes, cream, and bacon. David Shields, a historian of southern food and the author of Southern Provisions: The Creation and Revival of a Cuisine, writes that savory tomato pies have roots in the south as far back as the 1830s when they included meat.
The version made today with mayonnaise and shredded cheese has origins in the 1950s. Nancie McDermott, the North Carolina-based author of Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate, says she’d put the pie in the “modern-classic category,” surmising that it’s a product of 20th-century magazine editors, Junior League cookbooks and Southern Living magazine all coming up with tasty ways to make use of summer’s abundance.
And, here is my version:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working with the dough
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Low Carb/Gluten Free Crust
1 cup almond flour
1 tablespoon oat fiber (or coconut flour)
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or coconut oil, ghee or butter)
4 large fresh vine ripe tomatoes, sliced thin
1/2 cup regular mayonnaise
2 slices bacon, cooked, diced and fat reserved
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
For regular crust:
Pulse flour, butter, sugar, and salt in a processor until moist crumbs form.
Transfer mixture to a 9-inch pie pan and with floured fingers press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the side of the pan.
Freeze until firm, 10 to 15 minutes; prick all over with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees F.until golden, pressing with a spoon if it puffs up, about 25 to 30 minutes; cool for 10 minutes before filling.
For low carb crust:
In a 9-inch pie plate mix parmesan cheese, almond flour, oat fiber, egg, bacon fat, and salt with a fork. Press onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Cool for 10 minutes before filling.
To finish the pie:
Place sliced tomatoes on a double thickness of paper towels for an hour to drain off some of their moisture.
Place ½ cup shredded cheese in the bottom of the crust.
Place sliced tomatoes over the cheese, overlapping slightly.
Sprinkle bacon and red onion over the tomato slices.
Mix mayonnaise and remaining shredded cheddar cheese together. Spread the mixture over the sliced tomatoes, spreading the topping to the edges of the crust.
Sprinkle dried basil over the top.
Raise the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake the pie for about 30 minutes until browned and bubbly. Let the pie rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. The pie is also good served at room temperature.