Because fresh is best!

Don't let my last name or the fact that I make golumpki and pierogi with my husband fool you. My maternal grandmother, Maria Cavelli, was my first cooking teacher. Lasagna and insalata caprese served with hot crusty bread was the first menu I learned to make. A great meal anytime of year but not as good as what came during harvest season.

Stuffed eggplant dinner was something she made in late summer and early fall when the locally grown eggplants and tomatoes are ripe and fresh. When Tiny Weisblat from In Our Grandmother's Kitchens asked me to participate in the blogathan during Farmers Market Week, I knew this was the recipe to share.

Thanks to Farmer Paul, access to garden fresh (and I mean just picked fresh) fruits and veggies are at my fingertips daily. But not having backyard bounty is no excuse for not making the best of the harvest season. Shop at farmers' markets and roadside stands -- loving local this time of year comes easy.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook and her mantra was that it's not the time spent slaving over a hot stove that makes a great meal, it's quality ingredients. Please consider making a donation to support Massachusetts Farmers Markets. Remember, buy local because fresh is best! Or as my grandmother would have said, " Compra fresco locale è meglio."

1 large eggplant
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 pound Italian sweet sausage
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup milk, for dipping eggplant
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
Olive oil cooking spray

Remove sausage meat from its casing and sauté on medium low heat until cooked through and crumbly. In a food processer add cheese, egg parsley and sausage and pulse until filling is well mixed. Do not over-process, sausage crumbles should be visible and distinct. Slice eggplant very thin with a very sharp knife. Dip eggplant slices into milk, coating both sides. Add 1 tablespoon filling to the center of each round and roll. Secure with a toothpick if needed. Lightly spray oil in the bottom of a baking pan. Place each roll in the pan and sprinkle with breadcrumbs, then lightly spray the oil on the tops of the rolls. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Top with fresh sauce (see below).

6 large ripe red tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Using a sharp knife, slice a thin slice from one end of each of the tomatoes. Use a cheese grater and grate the tomato from the cut end over a bowl. When you finish the skin should be left in your hand and fresh tomato sauce in the bowl. Toss basil into the sauce and add salt and pepper to taste, cover and set aside. In a medium sized pan, sauté garlic in olive oil about 5 to 6 minutes. Cook on medium-low, do not allow the garlic to brown. Remove from the heat. Pour tomato mixture into the hot pan. Spoon over stuffed eggplant rounds immediately and sprinkle with grated parmesan. Hint: This sauce is also wonderful when tossed with hot pasta as a side.

Makes 4 servings.


  1. you have been busy !!

    love all your comment .. about fresh, seasonal ... all true.


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