September is the perfect time of the year, along with January, to focus on your good intentions for the upcoming season. It has always been like this, since I was a schoolgirl and waited impatiently to come back home from the seaside to buy my homework diary (how I loved to write down my name with my best handwriting!).
This year, though, my main purpose is to remember each and every single detail of my holidays – the smell, taste, my toes tickled by the sand, the cool sheets after lunch, the ice cream late at night – and to bring them with me, to face the next Autumn and Winter, enriched by the lessons learned during this glorious summer.
What have I learnt?
Well, just to start, I learnt by heart that it is good to take some time for yourself once in a while, that is not a mortal sin to get away for a few days and forget to check your e-mails, because – dreadful revelation – the world goes on perfectly even without you. You will find everything there, waiting for you, when you get back to reality.
If I face the next season with this new awareness, I am confident I will be able to do things better and more relaxed.
Once again, I had the evidence that the simple things are often also the best if ever further confirmation was needed… yes, it happens, for example, when you bring to the table a dish of tomatoes from the garden dressed just with good olive oil and accompanied by just a generous spoonful of fresh ricotta. It is two o’clock in the afternoon, and you just got back home after a morning spent at the seaside. Well, believe me, you have the same feedback you would have if bringing a filet mignon prepared with all the trappings.
I want to bring with me the smell of pine trees, the precious moment when you wake up with the sound of waves and a smile, the swims when it was difficult even to float because we were laughing so hard, the walks with Noa that tried to escape the water, the beach at sunset with no one around, the pink sky that was so beautiful it didn’t even look real, a shared towel and the photos that will remain as tangible memories, along with a thousand more indelible ones.
My good intentions for the next season
These are my good intentions for the next season, declared here, now, in front of you with this unforgettable seaside holiday in my mind and in my heart:
- I wish to visit more museums and art exhibitions. In Turin, I spent three days eating, walking and in awe in front Elliot Erwitt exhibition, the Cinema Museum and the Egyptian Museum. I want to be amazed, I want to get lost in the silent rooms of a museum. Next on the list for the upcoming weekend the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel. Then, on my wish list, there is also the American Museum of Natural History in New York, sooner or later, hopefully, sooner than later…
- Just imagine how cosy it would be to read a few pages of a good book before sleeping, tucked under the blankets. After enjoying page after page the intertwined stories, the fragility and the incredible strength of two teenagers in Jerusalem in Someone to Run with I took a deep breath and dove into Bruce, the biography of my favourite artist. Words and music are related, the pages are still covered with sand that reminds me of long hours at the beach.
- I want to understand something more about photography, to be able to finally get the results I want, without entrusting good luck or unorthodox procedures. I already bookmarked a few courses held by Fotografiafirenze.it. In May, I attended the basic Lightroom course, and I found it incredibly useful. I’m ready to go back to school. It is September, after all.
- I have the desire to get to know Florence better, and discover the reality that surrounds me. In July, I walked in Florence with my camera and my nose up in the air to write an article for the September issue of The Simple Things, and I fell in love once more. I will discover even more hidden corners, gardens, taverns, pubs and inns, and I will report all of them to you.
I want to enjoy life.
This should be one of the good intentions valid throughout the year. Still, it is worth repeating: I want to have fun and enjoy my life, doing the best job in the world, because the thirties are truly the most exciting years of your life, the right balance between discoveries, lightheartedness, responsibility and commitment. So, of course, I’ll take you with me on this trip.
Now I would love to reassure you. We had many lunches made just with fresh tomatoes and cheese, yes, but we also spent some fun time in the kitchen cooking, especially rice or barley cold salads, highly appreciated because we could make them in the morning, stash them in the fridge and enjoy them later, ready and tasty, when we came back home from a morning spent at the beach swimming, sunbathing and playing with our dogs.
We chose fresh and quick recipes, though one day, I could not resist the urge to fry a few eggplants, one of the decadent pleasures of the end of summer, along with the sweetest and ripe tomatoes.
And now I’m going to tell you more about my pasta with fried eggplants and mozzarella.
The recipe for my pasta with fried eggplants and mozzarella
Although I could easily eat fried eggplants as they are, such as peanuts, pulling out all my selfishness and strenuously defending my precious bowl of golden nuggets, this time I won this temptation and cooked a good bowl of pasta for my friends. How generous I was! If you overcome the desire for fried eggplants and manage to get to the next step, please try this pasta dish, so hearty and full of flavour. It is the perfect way to celebrate the last days of summer.
The following recipe for pasta with fried eggplants is for 5 rather hungry people, just as we were. At every meal, we looked each other in the eyes and admitted that it didn’t matter if there were leftovers, we could eat them in the evening, and every time, as usual, we would bring back empty and perfectly clean dishes to the kitchen. You can’t help it. The brackish air of the seaside makes you hungry.
Pasta with fried eggplants and tomato sauce
- 500 grams (2 cups) tomato purée
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 purple eggplants, cubed
- 250 grams (1/2 lb) fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
- 500 grams (1.1 lb) short pasta, as tortiglioni, or penne
- Fresh basil
- Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- Pour a few tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil in a medium saucepan and heat it with a clove of garlic. When the garlic is golden and fragrant, pour in the tomato sauce. Season with a pinch of salt and cook over low heat for about ten minutes, until the tomato purée gets all the flavour from the olive oil and the garlic. Adjust the seasoning and set aside.
- Rinse and cube the eggplants. Fry them in two or three batches in a big pan with plenty of olive oil until golden and crisp on the edges, then spoon them onto a dish lined with a paper towel so that the excess olive oil is absorbed.
- Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the package instructions, drain it al dente and pour it into a big serving bowl.
- Season the pasta with the tomato sauce, the fried eggplants and the fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces. Scatter a few leaves of fresh basil over the pasta, and add some grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Toss thoroughly and serve immediately.
More recipes with eggplants from the blog archive
- Eggplant parmigiana. This is not THE recipe for melanzane alla parmigiana – or parmigiana di melanzane if you prefer – this is a recipe, the recipe I like, the recipe I ate during my childhood and the same recipe I have now, every now and then. It always comes with all the options: fried aubergines, not grilled, a generous sprinkling of Parmigiano (it is called parmigiana with a reason), a mozzarella still dripping milk and beaten eggs. I still wonder why I eat my favourite food only once every two years…
- Stuffed eggplants. I chose a stuffing of ground beef and sausages, but you can also use the same amount of beef and pork ground meat. As for the cheese, after years of loyal use of pecorino, I just fell in love with the depth of flavour of aged provolone, a fabulous spicy and biting cheese from the South of Italy which you should add to your top ten of things to try at least once in your lifetime.
- Baked eggplants. Colours and textures of that once loved recipe surfaced along with the ingredients: eggplants, of course, either the round purple ones or those thin long ones, then breadcrumbs, parsley, capers, garlic and some grated Parmigiano. So there it was, my forgiving recipe, thick slices of eggplants topped with boldly flavoured breadcrumbs, roasted in the oven until golden and crisp.