I have this little conversation with myself on a weekly, or at least biweekly basis. It goes more or less like this:
Me: Self, you really should cook something. There’s been too much delivery food. And what about Pithy and Cleaver?
Self: I know, I know. [Insert excuses here.] And I don’t have the time or energy to make something interesting enough for Pithy and Cleaver.
Me: Isn’t that missing the point? Don’t we all need recipes for real food that we can throw together when we’ve run out of steam?
This is barely a recipe. But it’s good, satisfying food for nights when you can barely summon the strength to reach into the pantry. And it’s vegetarian. If you have homemade sauce in the freezer, this is a wonderful use for it. Or stir together Marcella Hazan’s classic quick recipe. But if all you can manage is pulling out a jar of your favorite brand, I won’t judge you. I was checking out Eataly, the new Italian food emporium that just opened in NYC, and picked up a good looking jar of Ponti Arrabbiata sauce. Not too many ingredients and totally passable, tastewise. Even better was the stracciatella “di Burrata” we picked up–luscious mozzarella curds mixed with rich, sweet cream, perfect for piling on a baguette or um, eating with a spoon.
I wanted to make an easy unfried spin on eggplant parmesan featuring this ridiculous gooey cheese, so I sliced up some farmers’ market eggplant and doused it in olive oil before throwing the slices on the grill. It’s important to cook them well, until they get a little charred outside and creamy inside. If you take the eggplant off too soon, you’ll get dry sponges instead of silky melting mouthfuls. When the eggplant’s good and cooked, pile it on a plate with some warmed up tomato sauce and a healthy dollop of the cheese. If you can’t get stracciatella or burrata (which is stracciatella wrapped in a mozzarella skin), you could make this with good fresh mozzarella or a pile of creamy ricotta. Dab each bite of eggplant with sauce and cheese and devour.