Today also happens to be the final for the EuroCup 2012, where Spain plays Italy. This rivalry is akin to UK vs. UofL or St. X vs. Trinity in our city, so you can imagine the tension. The streets are empty and the bars are full. Everywhere you do see people they are decked out in red and gold, the national colors, and even baby strollers have Spanish flags perched on the handles. Consequently, the Italians are having house parties.
I figured I would take this time to introduce some summer treats that can be prepared quickly, or even ahead of time, for a summer get-together. I try to avoid standing next to the stove too long, or shoveling hot, tasty morsels into my mouth during these scorching months...and I can only imagine the same for my city across the sea, which is suffering 100+ degree (Fahrenheit) temperatures!
So, here's what's on the menu:
Summer pasta with a fresh tomato sauce
Grilled cheese with pimentón
Eggplant spread (makes about a cup)
2 medium-sized eggplants
1/2 medium onion
3-4 cloves garlic (you can never have too much garlic)
Juice from half a lemon
Wash, peel, and chop the eggplant into small cubes. Mince the garlic, and finely chop the onion as well. This will help everything cook evenly, quickly, and make for an easy pass in the blender. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and get it cooking, they should be dancing around in that hot pan. Adding the onion first allows the olive oil to take on the flavor of the onion, which will help build your flavor layers. Do not brown the onions, but when they are soft, add the eggplant and lower the heat a bit, you don't want anything to burn. Mix up the eggplant and onion, make sure that everything is cooking evenly, and when things get moving, put a lid on it--this will help the eggplant get softer and will help us reach the smooshy stage that we need before we add the garlic.
|Chopped onion and eggplant over medium-high heat.|
Now let's make a...
Summer pasta with fresh tomato sauce!
Juice from half a lemon
1/4 onion, grated
2 ripe tomatoes, grated
1 finely chopped green pepper
To start this off, you need to grate the onion and combine it with the lemon juice in a separate bowl. The acid from the lemon neutralizes the sting of the raw onion, which would kill the sweetness of the tomato. We're not making a pico de gallo here, so we need to mute the onion a bit. Let that sit aside, covered with the lemon half if you want.
In honor of the game today, on to the grilled cheese. These little nibblies are great for game day because they are cheezy, crunchy, and best of all, it is finger food!
Grilled cheese with Pimentón
Baguette, or rustic bread with a soft inside
Swiss cheese, or your favorite melting cheese
Pimentón (smoked paprika)
Heat up that grill, or if you don't have one, a skillet would work too.
Slice the bread into uniform pieces, or as close as you can make that happen. You know what, if you go to Breadworks on Bardstown Road (or any of their locations), they will cut the loaf for you. I believe any good bakery would do that. Melt some butter and brush it on the side of the bread that will be touching the pan. Slice some cheese and place that in between the bread. I feel like I'm a little insulting explaining this, but grill on both sides until it is ready and plate it up. Sprinkle the pimentón over the little sandwiches.
Alternatively, you could mix up the pimentón with the butter and smear that on the bread before you grill it. Nom nom.
Enjoy! and, for the fans... ¡Viva España!
Listening to Jazz Insights with Danny O'Brien on WFPK Radio Louisville