Featured Wisconsin Cheeses: Fontina, Asiago
I try to visit those old-school Mama and Papa Italian-American restaurants – slowly becoming extinct, I’m sure – whenever I visit the East Coast where I grew up. Very soon after I get comfortable at a table, maybe on a seat covered in red Naugahyde, my mouth starts to water, kind of like Pavlov’s dog.
I’m hungry for fried calamari, crusty bread, pungent cheeses, and just about anything abundantly covered in red sauce. But there is a slight disconnect when the taste of the food doesn’t always match up with my memory of it. I hear from my family and friends back home that quality keeps going down, the old recipes are disappearing: not made from scratch, not made with care from quality ingredients like the old days.
Eggplant Parmigiana is right at the top of my list of remembered favorites. Although I admit that my own style of cooking usually skips over deep-frying, I’ve come to a happy arrangement with my oven-roasted version of the classic dish – not old school, but still delicious, most of all when combined with creamy, cheesy baked pasta. I prefer Wisconsin Fontina Cheese for its velvety texture when melted.
Eggplant Parm Mac and Cheese
1 eggplant, ends trimmed, peeled
1 teaspoon salt; plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
3 cups Italian-seasoned panko or bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) Wisconsin Asiago Cheese, shredded
1 pound cooked pasta shells or spirals
1 cup marinara sauce, homemade or prepared
3/4 cup (3 ounces) Wisconsin Fontina Cheese, shredded
Place large rimmed baking sheet on oven rack and preheat oven to 450°F.
Slice eggplant in half lengthwise and then into ½-inch wide half-moons.
Whisk together egg, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper and garlic in large bowl; add eggplant and toss to coat. Dredge eggplant in panko or bread crumbs.
Pour enough olive oil over the bottom of preheated baking sheet to cover to depth of 1/8-inch. Place eggplant on sheet and roast 10 minutes; flip eggplant slices and roast additional 10 minutes or until eggplant is tender and crust is golden. Lower oven temperature to 400°F.
Meanwhile, heat medium saucepan over moderate heat; add butter and heat until foaming subsides and butter is melted. Whisk in flour; cook 1 minute. Slowly pour in milk while whisking. Bring to simmer; lower heat and cook 5 – 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Asiago Cheese; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine the pasta with the milk mixture and transfer to a large casserole or baking dish. Top with the eggplant, marinara sauce and Fontina Cheese. Bake 15 minutes, until hot and cheese is melted.
Print This Post
Leave a Reply