April 20, 2009

Eggplant and Fettuccini

Hey, it's disco week on American Idol! No one in my family seems to be interested this season, but in lieu of watching crime-solving reruns with Mr. Grumps, I take to the upstairs tv and settle in for a bit of solitude.

I was torn in the seventies as to whether or not I was "rock" or "disco". There was a fine line, and you didn't cross it. True rock followers would lose all respect for you if caught listening to disco. You were either one or the other. Platform shoes, or Converse sneakers.

Although I usually snub my nose at disco, it's hard not to want to get up and "shake your groove thing" when you hear it. Especially after a refreshing 'beverage' or two. To celebrate Idol week, I'm sharing a quick, easy recipe for all you Idol fans, so you can get to the tube and see who's going to stand or fall.

This recipe is based on a cooking demonstration I got to see firsthand. My daughters and I went to an Italian Fest featuring Rocco DiSpirito. We met him in person and he was quite charming. I do say, up close I think he's had a bit of work, because his skin is as smooth as a baby eggplant. Hardly a wrinkle! He called one of my girls up to the stage a few times, and she was quite beside herself. A day she'll never forget. The only thing I've altered from his original recipe is additional veggies and various tomatoes. I also use sea salt, and disagree with Mr. DiSpirito when he says "salt is salt". Sorry Rocco, it's not.

So, enjoy this comforting dish. Make it quick, and get to the couch for American Idol disco night!

Eggplant and Fettuccini (Eggplantini)

You'll need:

1 package of egg fettuccini
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs (add freshly ground pepper to taste)
2 cups of fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 small eggplant (diced)
1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
(you can use plum, or tomato of choice, just finely dice)
1 small jar artichoke hearts (drained/chopped)
1 clove of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons kalamata olives (chopped)
5 basil leaves, (cut into fine strips)
1 cup fresh, baby spinach (uncooked)
Italian grated or shredded cheese (parmesan/romano)

*1 glass of your favorite wine

First, prep your veggies: Wash and dice the eggplant. Wash the tomatoes, (cut them in half if you're using grape or cherry, finely dice if you're using bigger variety).

Chop up your artichoke hearts and olives, mince your garlic, and "chiffonade" your basil (roll the leaves together into a cigar shape, and thinly slice. Watch your fingers, folks!)

Now, get a pot filled with water ready for your pasta. You are going to cook the whole package. Salt the water with sea salt, and let it come to a boil.

Next, get a big ziploc bag and dump the breadcrumbs inside. Add the diced eggplant and tomatoes. Shake the bag gently. (You can shake your own "groove thing" too at this point if you'd like). Okay, you can stop now. Set the bag aside.

Slightly cover the bottom of a large, deep pan with olive oil to saute the veggies. When hot, gently add the eggplant and tomatoes by hand, shaking the excess crumbs right into the ziploc bag. Throw away the bag when the veggies are all nestled in the pan. Stir the eggplant and tomatoes frequently, and cook until golden and tender. Add the artichokes, garlic and basil. Give it all a stir to combine.

Now slowly add the chicken broth, stir, then add the white wine. Cover and let it simmer while you prepare the pasta. Place the fettuccini in the boiling water, and stir. You are only going to cook this about 3 minutes. You want the pasta to be "al dente" or a little firm in the middle. This is the tricky part. Using tongs or a "spider" (long handled wire net), remove the pasta from the salted water, and put it directly into the pan with your broth and veggies. You will finish cooking the fettuccini right in this pan with the veggies and broth. You can add a little of the remaining warm pasta water if it looks too dry. Add your uncooked baby spinach, and mix well together. Heat for about 5 minutes more and you're done!

Swirl a generous portion onto a warm plate, top with grated cheese and grab that glass of wine!

Now head to your favorite spot, and see who'll sing "I Will Survive!"


Anonymous said...

Uhm, where is the picture of me and Rocco mom!

Anonymous said...

This is the best -----love the music -----Rocco did not have anything done to!!!! yes where is the picture ----I can't wait to try the recipe, and by the way going through the albums we have I found a Bobby Sherman Album....I'll make sure to save it for you. Maybe they'll bring back "Here Come theh Brides" reruns!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

we tried the dish ---it was good even Mike liked it ---however like mr grumps have you tried it with rice ?