Six years ago, my husband and I traveled to Italy for the adventure of a lifetime. We juggled more than suitcases since this trip was not just for us but ten family members. We began with a mixture of everyone’s expectations, dreams, and the wonderment of what it would be like.
You know that feeling when you are exposed to something bigger than the world you live in? When the sites you tour have centuries of history connected to them and their mere presence makes you stop, pause, and wonder? Italy was all that on many levels. As the weeks, months, and years fade away from that overseas holiday, a few things did stick as a lifestyle habit.
Italy taught me to rejoice in the simplicity of food.
Our hotel was all-inclusive and the bounty of food was never wasted. Leftover vegetables from one meal lived on in the form of soup or as an antipasto dish the next day. The antipasto salad bar was abundant, fresh, and served simply with olive oil, cracked black pepper, and an assortment of vinegars. Plates and platters of eggplants, chickpeas, roasted peppers, cured meats, and eggs were abundant and that first course set the stage for lingering conversations with loved ones.
Can we talk about that grilled eggplant in that photographic?
The grilled eggplant showed up every day for dinner. It was on a light bed of romaine tossed with a slightly sweet white wine vinegar and filled with a perfectly seasoned ricotta. Lastly, it was kissed with a drizzle of sweet and savory balsamic vinegar.
Here is the recipe, recreated from my memory and studying that photo. De Nigris makes a seasoned Italian white wine vinegar that nails the flavor with the romaine and I recommend using De Nigris white eagle or bronze eagle balsamic for the drizzle.
Enjoy your own little taste of Italy.
Grilled Eggplant with Ricotta Pesto and Roasted Pepper
Makes 8 eggplant rollups
- 1 medium eggplant
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup ricotta cheese
- 2 tablespoons basil pesto
- 2 tablespoons, fine chopped roasted red bell peppers
- Sea salt
- 1 head of romaine lettuce
- 2 teaspoons De Nigris Seasoned Italian White Wine Vinegar
- Cracked black pepper
- De Nigris white eagle or bronze eagle balsamic vinegar
- Heat grill to medium-high heat or prepare charcoal grill.
- Wash and cut the eggplants lengthwise into eight thin slices. Rub ¼ cup of olive oil over both sides of eggplant.
- Grill the eggplant on both sides for 4 minute each. Turn over and crisscross hatch marks on opposite sides. Lightly salt and pepper. Remove from heat and place on plate.
- In a bowl, mix the 1 tablespoon of olive oil with ricotta cheese, pesto, and bell peppers until fully incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon of the white wine vinegar. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Take washed romaine and slice into thin slices. Mix with De Nigris seasoned Italian white wine vinegar. Plate on platter with cracked pepper.
- Spread ricotta mixture on to eggplant and spread it evenly on each slice. Roll up and plate on romaine.
- Drizzle with remaining 1 teaspoon of De Nigris balsamic vinegar and serve.
Arkansas Women Bloggers member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well from her life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. Read more related to cooking, entertaining, gadget suggestions, ingredient explorations, local finds, local restaurant treasures, kitchen tour spotlights, and always with a healthy and simplistic approach.