The Leaning Tower of Eggplant

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Say the following words and accent the second to the last syllable in each of them: Brunello, limoncello, Montalcino, bianco, pantaloni. What do you hear?  Ahhh….yes, “bellezza.” My husband and I generally can’t shut up when it comes to discussing travel, especially when it comes to Italy. If you ever have the opportunity, you must see the beautiful land of Italia. We traveled there a few years ago, and it really messed us up in a big way. I developed a cooking addiction and even began making my own limoncello.  In an attempt to relive the aromi italiani and entertain my 6-year-old son’s dream to one day see the Leaning Tower of Pisa, I used some gorgeous eggplant and tomatoes I got from the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market recently and made a tower of our own; although this one’s edible! I drew inspiration from the colors of the Italian flag by using pesto, tomatoes, and mozzarella. ‘Tis the season for traditional basil pesto, so I’m enjoying using it in every which way. Who knew eating in season could be this much fun.  May you be transported to Pisa for the duration of your meal! Don’t forget to pair with a nice Italian wine or even some wines produced right here in Arkansas!  See here for some wine pairing recommendations! Ciao!

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Rome and Cinque Terre, Italy 2011

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Subtleties of Cinque Terre, Italy 2011

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Vernazza, Cinque Terre, Italy 2011

Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa

(2010). Leaning Tower of Pisa Wallpaper. Retrieved from

 http://cdn.stormgrounds.com/wallpaper/Miscellaneous/Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa

Eggplant Tower

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Recipe

4 Eggplant globes – sliced

3 tomatoes – sliced

fresh mozzarella balls – sliced

1/4 cup pesto – see below for recipe

1 cup pasta sauce

olive oil to coat eggplant

salt and pepper to taste

4-6 fresh basil leaves

Preheat your oven to 400F. Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Rub each side with olive oil, and then lightly salt and pepper. Place eggplant slices on baking sheet and roast in oven for 20-30 minutes, flipping halfway until slices are golden brown.

While the eggplant is cooking, slice your tomatoes and mozzarella into approximately 1/4 inch slices.  Place tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Put in oven for about 10 minutes.  Pull out and cool.

Once eggplant is done, begin building your towers.  Place one slice of eggplant on baking sheet, spread spoonful of pesto on top. Then, dollop with a spoonful of pasta sauce. Place slice of tomato on top of sauce, top with a slice of mozzarella, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Repeat this two more times, ending with eggplant, pesto, pasta sauce, and mozzarella.

Put towers back in oven and bake until mozzarella is melted, about 5-10 minutes.  Place your towers on plates and top with fresh basil.  Yummmmm!!

Basil Pesto Recipe

1 cup packed fresh basil

2-3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place basil, garlic, and pumpkin seeds in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.  Add olive oil and continue to process until mixed entirely.  Once mixed, add salt and pepper to taste and stir in cheese.

Either serve immediately, keep in fridge for a few days, or keep in freezer by omitting the cheese, topping with extra olive oil, and storing in an airtight container.

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