La Cucina purports to be Italy’s most complete and authentic cookbook. It may well be. 900 odd pages, no pictures, more than 2000 recipes each referencing region of origin makes it a mighty reference, the type of book I like to have a few of.
I also like eggplant, especially deep fried – the crunch and flavour of the skin is wonderful. So I was able to combine this craving with the requirement to keep pasta up to a hungry rower by making Pasta alla Norma from La Cucina. I’ve made variants of this before but this recipe also required ricotta salata which I substituted with feta.
Its a fairly simple recipe. Most of the time and effort is spent deep frying the eggplant in batches. While you are doing that, make a tomato sauce of 2 cans tomato puree, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 sliced onion, salt and pepper. Cook this in a pan until it has reduced by 1/3. Cook your pasta (I used Barilla Casarecce). Drain and add 50 g crumbled feta, the tomato sauce, a handful of basil leaves and some more pepper. Combine well. Serve up and top with eggplant some more feta and a few basil leaves.
We have also been continuing on with our Isola Farm beef pack. We used one of the 1.5kg mince packs on the weekend by making a cottage pie with Guinness on Saturday and burgers on Sunday. For the burgers I made brioche burger buns using the recipe here. The dough is quite wet so the moulds mentioned in the recipe would have been useful but I think they turned out quite well.