The.Boy and I have been together for exactly one year and one day now and though this past 365 days contained more hardship than either of us could have ever imagined, our relationship itself did not. I’m sure we could attribute this to many factors – we’re both fairly easygoing, family-oriented, good-natured folk – but at the end of the day, what (I’m convinced) it comes down to is that we’re also both pretty discriminating when it comes to our parmesan cheese.
And that trumps all.
To put things in perspective, The.Boy has exactly three items in his refrigerator at all times – grape jelly, ketchup, and what looks to be a container of fake shelf stable parmesan cheese. The latter of which, he proceeded to inform me the first time I ever stayed over at his place and he gave me a tour (which included a looksy into his fridge…he knew me too well even then), he purchased just because he liked the container although he promptly through out the contents and refilled it with some serious Parm-Reggiano. You know, the good real non-shelf stable stuff.
This may seem like a trivial point to some of you, but I grew up in a house where we may not have had eggs or bread on a regular basis but we always had a half quart of real Parmigiano in the fridge. Always.
So for me to date someone who did not think there was a difference in flavor between processed cheese substitute and the real deal…
…well that totally would have been a deal breaker.
And given the fact that The.Boy considers canned peas and corn to count for all of his daily servings of vegetables…his discriminating Parm palate is pretty much hard evidence that he and I were meant to be.
This month, Whole Foods is celebrating this undisputed “king of cheese” with their annual celebration on March 9th. This year, to kick it off, they are attempting to reclaim their Guinness World Record for “Most Wheels of Parmigiano Cheese Wheels Cracked Simultaneously”. Stop by your local Whole Foods on March 9th at 2pm CST (3 pm EST), to be a part of this and to join in the celebration!
Personally, I tend to celebrate the existence of Parmiggiano-Reggiano on a weekly basis and sprinkle it pretty much all over everything. Here, I’ve combined it with a fun play on baked pasta where, instead of tossing it with some veggies and baking it in a pan, I’ve actually baked the pasta inside an eggplant shell. It’s a great way to ensure you get a healthy bite every time.
There are TWO giveaways going on here right now – the first, for the latest Aida Mollenkamp cookbook will end on Wednesday (click here to read how to enter) and the second, for some healthy delicious new Engine2 products from Whole Foods will end Friday (click here to read how to enter).
Also, as I mentioned in my last post, I am raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of my dad. Every little bit helps and if you could spare just a few dollars to donate (really – EVERY.LITTLE.BIT.HELPS) I would appreciate it!!
One year ago…Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Two years ago…Red Chile Enchiladas with Chicken and Melted Cheese, Meyer Lemon Bars
Three years ago…Cinnamon Butterscotch Bars
Four years ago…Crockpot Pulled Pork, Grilled Snapper Vera Cruz with Spaghetti
Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Pasta
Serves 4, adapted from Mediterranean Harvest
- 4 small or 2 large eggplants
- olive oil
- 6 oz penne
- 1 1/2 cups Southern Tomato Sauce (recipe to follow)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
For the Southern Tomato Sauce
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- a few sprigs basil
- 2 tbsp slivered fresh basil
For the sauce:
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic. As soon as it begins to color, add the tomatoes, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt and basil sprigs. Stir and turn up the heat.
- When the tomatoes begin to bubble, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring often, until thick and fragrant. Stir in the slivered basil and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and adjust the seasoning.
For the stuffed eggplant:
- Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out a small hollow in each half, about 1 inch in from the edges. Use the flesh for another purpose. Salt the eggplant and let sit for 30 minutes. Pat dry.
- Heat the oven to 425. Brush the eggplants generously with olive oil and place cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until tender. Remove from the oven and flip over. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the oven to 350.
- While the eggplant is cooking, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, leaving it a touch more al dente than normal. Drain and toss with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Place the pasta in the eggplant hollows and top with remaining tomato sauce and parmesan cheese. Brush the dull side of a sheet of aluminum foil with olive oil and cover the dish. Return to the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until the eggplant is tender and the cheese is beginning to brown.
What an awesome way to serve the pasta. I, too, am obsessed with real Parmigiano-Reggiano and was in my glory when we took a tour in Italy to see how it’s made!
haha I love this story! It’s amazing what a difference in taste there is once you start eating the “real” stuff!
Happy anniversary! I think similar taste in parmesan is probably the best foundation on which to build a relationship.
It’s those seemingly little things that show you that fate brought you together! My husband and I have a number of those things that no one else would understand in common. 🙂
Haha, so true. Once you taste the good stuff, there is no turning back. Unless you are vegan… and while it definitely isn’t the same, it is pretty good. 😉 Way to go on 1 year with the boy! 🙂
Happy Anniversary Joanne….and this recipe is another keeper for me!
Ha- so glad he knows is cheese! I don’t enjoy the shelf-stable stuff myself 🙂
I love this dish- kinda like a twist on eggplant parm?
Has it been a year already since it seems like only yesterday. Congratulations to the both of you. Every good celebration deserves memorable food as well.
Congrats on your 1 yr dating anniversary! That really is an important milestone…I feel like the first 6 months everyone is on their best behavior, but after that you see the other person’s true colors. You guys seem pretty perfect for each other, parmesan tastes and all 😉
I love eggplant so much…and adding pasta can only improve it 🙂
Yay for your one year! Wow, time flies. I love celebrating anniversaries. 🙂 And thank goodness your cheese tastes match up! PHEW.
A year is an important milestone and I can see from your cooking alone that your relationship will last a lifetime.
Parm is a #1 always-on-hand staple here too. Sometimes we are also without bread. But there is always Parmesan. I love this, Joanne!
Ohhh, this is a wonderful dish!! I am loving this idea! Great recipe!!
This creation is worthy of the gods on Mt. Olympus :-). I obviously have strong feelings for pasta and I’m glad that an unnecessary cheese challenge did not interfere with your creative processes. Relationships have ended for less. Have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary.
This looks really good Joanne
Lol. Parmesan should be a staple in everyone’s fridge. The real stuff. And good for him for recognizing that..and your needs. He’s definitely a keeper. A whole year…sweeeet. Still waiting for that virtual bridal shower. *ahem*
We don’t mess around with sub-par Parm (subparm? Hahaha) cheese in this house, either. This looks like a great way to enjoy it!
Oh look how the cheese and fate go hand in hand :)Happy anniversary to you both, these look wonderful! Like sailing in little pasta boats (if you are celebrating with these)! I was a little overzealous at the veggie market this weekend and may have bought way too many eggplants to work through before they expire – problem solved!…
wow a year already – when do we get to meet him?
I bought a huge (you only get huge) container of parmesan cheese from Costco. Does that count? Probably not.
It’s the real deal for me as well! Happy anniversary to you both 🙂
ha, i was at WF during their crack heard around the world last year. it’s amazing how different it tastes when it’s from a fresh wheel 🙂 YUM!
Happy anniversary! He sounds like a keeper to me. 🙂 Also these stuffed eggplants need to be in my life, stat.
It’s a cheesy match made in, well, you know the rest. 🙂 It sounds like it totally WAS a sign. The parm in the fridge, I mean.
Baked eggplant bowls of beautiful pasta look sooo good, I wonder if they’re cracking open Parmesan at WF in London… Shall find out!
mmm, this looks fantastic! congrats on a year 🙂
I like the look of this, heavy on the pasta, light on the eggplant.
Happy anniversary plus one day to you and The Boy! It’s quite clear you were meant to be together – cheese can tell you everything you need to know about another person, doesn’t it?
Like me, for example: I love the shelf-stable “Parmesan” because I grew up dumping vast quantities of the stuff over my food. Even though the fresh-grated stuff has better flavor, I sprinkle some of the pre-grated over my pasta now and then to relive my childhood, and I’m not ashamed to admit it 😉
Your eggplant looks so delicious – too good for the pre-grated Parmesan!
Good parmesan is KEY! Also, Congrats on 1 year!! So excited for you two love birds. xoxo
I love parmesan (and THIS is important to me) I have problems with hubby by this, he buy any cheese:( so I always try to se when I go to stores Others cheese like parmesan I use a lot too:)
so I think you and the boy are OK!! this look delicious Joanne and I love eggplants!
happy anniversary lady! This baked eggplant stuffed with pasta is pretty much my idea of heaven! lovely recipe!
This looks seriously delicious… and honestly I find it painful to eat pasta without good parm:-) Happy 1 year to you and the boy, love how happy you are together!!
That’s my favourite hard cheese though I don’t always have one wedge in my fridge. The baked eggplant looks delish!
I agree totally with being easy-going, it helps a relationship so much. Also you have your priorities straight when it comes to being discriminating with food. Glenn has come a long way since marrying me, I am super proud of him 🙂
Congrats on your year anniversary! I love pasta and eggplant. Thanks for a delicious new addition to my repertoire.
Has it been a year already? Wow! Happy Anniversary.
I like this topsy turvy way of baking the pasta in the vegetable instead of the vegetable in the pasta. Fun!
Happy anniversary my friend 😀
Brilliant job on this pasta dish it looks exquisite!
Last Friday I was in the middle of making your parmesan beer bread recipe when I discovered nothing more than a rind in our fridge. I was so mad at my husband for not buying more (he had used it all on pasta last week when I was out of town) and shocked that we didn’t have a spare, as I typically buy 3 at a time.
Look at THAT – a cheesy, warming delight!! Looks so good. Eggplant parm to the much better level .
LOL, we always ate “fake” parm growing up but I am obsessed with the good stuff these days. It really is the best! I love this meal, adding it to my menu very soon 🙂
Happy 1st anniversary! The Boy is a lucky guy… 😉
Mmmm, cheeez! Definitely can’t beat a good Parmiggiano-Reggiano over everything. Happy Anniversary, too!
There’s no substitute for good cheese or love. Happy Anniversary!
Happy Anniversary Joanne! I still remember your previous posts where in you had described the “lack” of having a the.boy quite hilariously and how people always asked you whether you had found one! Coming to the dish, I am yet to make a stuffed eggplant dish from Madhur Jaffery’s book (world vegetarian). Although, she stuffed it with flavored rice. Pasta is new to me and looks awesome in those clicks!!!!
Awww, you two sound adorable together. How wonderful that he came into your life when he did – when you needed it – and how wonderful for him that YOU are part of his! Happy anniversary.
The dish looks splendid. I think I’d use a zucchini instead of an eggplant, but I love the concept.
Happy Anniversary to you two! I must say The.Boy had a pretty brilliant idea using the fake cheese container for the real thing! Much easier than trying to sprinkle what I grated into a tupperware onto a dish and have the whole spoonful drop in one place. This recipe looks and sounds so good, I’m going to pick up some eggplant when I’m at the store tomorrow. Yum!
EVERYTHING is better with The Good Stuff sprinkled on top!
Could not live without my parm cheese. That boy is definitely a keeper; that would have been a shame if that fake cheese was in there…lol
This dish looks awesome. So totally different and delish:)
Nice comforting pasta dish! I never cook with eggplant, I always forget about that veggie, thanks for the reminder haha.
What a great idea to bake the pasta inside of the eggplant like that. Not only is the presentation beautiful but it must taste amazing. Yum!
If the eggplant were big, wide and long enough, I think I would just roll it up wrapping the pasta inside. Of course, I can always think of stuffing with less pasta then roll it up but less pasta is not me! 😛
Congrats on a year!! I remember when you guys started dating!!! This dish looks delicious.
Stuffed veggies rock! I love this pasta and eggplant combo! Happy one-year to you and the Boy!
My boyfriend doesn’t love cheese in general, but he for some reason LOVES parm. He doesn’t even let me buy the pre-grated (but real) stuff! I also love the idea of stuffing eggplant with pasta!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen pasta stuffed inside a vegetable like this – such a great idea! Good parmesan is something my parents will always splurge on .. I haven’t quite worked myself up to buying the super expensive stuff all the time but I at least buy from the refrigerated cheese section! 🙂
its like an inside out eggplant Parmesan with noodles! I LOVE IT! GENIUS YET AGAIN
Has it seriously already been a year?? Wow, time sure does fly!! This looks great – and the real stuff is a must!
I can’t believe it’s been a full year! I swear it was just yesterday you were writing about your first date.
This stuffed eggplant makes me drool Joanne! Happy anniversary to you and your boyfriend! One year is a good start to many to come!
Congratulations on your 366 day anniversary. I love how you have so much in common except for the contents in your fridge – something to work on there and he seems very willing! xx
Congrats! What a beautiful post! I am laughing though, because I know so many ‘non foodie’ guys who are the SAME WAY about cheese. They’ll eat various other questionable processed foods and fast food I wouldn’t touch but don’t $^@^^ with cheese.
Right now, my fiancé and I are trying to go dairy free for a few weeks, however I can’t stand to now have any cheese on hand, so I have left some good Parm and Pecorino lying around and will pretend that hard cheeses don’t count as dairy. Love this recipe! Happy anniversary!
Happy anniversary! What a wonderful way to celebrate. This looks like a wonderful dish. I don’t think I’ve even seen pasta stuffed into eggplant. My boyfriend will love this!
Glad to see that you and the boy managed to stay together for a year. nowadays it seems so tough to find a great match. I can’t resist a true Italian Parm myself. But I limit myself, and often will use the grated parm just because it’s less fattening. Anyway your idea to stuff eggplant with pasta is brilliant. thanks for sharing. Oh and the parm melted on that pasta to perfections.
I can’t believe he kept the green can and refilled it with good parm. That kind of cracks me up.
Loving this stuffed eggplant dish. Everything is better if it’s stuffed with pasta!
Congratulations on your one year! This looks so perfect to celebrate.
Yum! This pasta looks delicious. I’ve always loved Parmesan cheese and I am still struggling to find a replacement that I really like. It’s delicious on everything.
PS: Happy anniversary 🙂
I cannot remember exactly when I made the leap from “fake” shake it from the container Parmesan to keeping a healthy size block in my refrigerator but, I know it was a never turn back step (laugh).
That.boy is a keeper. Happy first year dating Anniversary.
Congratulations on a year together. And I can so relate to those feelings…Ryan and I have been through so many hard times, but I’m thankful we walked those roads together. This baked eggplant looks amazing, and I’m always looking for another pasta recipe. Thank you for sharing, sweet girl!
That looks gloriously good. And I hate that parmesan cheese in the green can, too. 🙂
oh YUM! i love that you cooked it in an eggplant. and congrats for hitting a year! that’s a biggie, you guys sound adorable together!
Until I started cooking on my own, I didn’t know there was any other kind of parm other than the stuff in the green can. This looks yummy! 🙂
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Oh yeah…I ALWAYS have a tub of Parm in my fridge, too. But it’s getting dangerous low these days…
Happy anniversary, my dear Joanne!
You are too funny! Happy 1 year to you and the boy!
Oh and sidenote: I always have real Parm in my fridge too. Can’t go without it. You never know when you need to make a batch of pesto, right?
Oh and this pasta – YES PLEASE! I love the presentation of it – so fancy!
Haha, I have actually never tried the real deal. Don’t look at me like that, I am more disappointed in myself because of it. Writing it down on my shopping list right now 😉
i’ve never seen pasta served like this before–nice trick, it looks great!
This is looks great. I make one stuffed with chorizo, but since I’ll be going vegetarian for a while and this will make a perfect substitution.
Happy Anniversary! I love that Parmesan cheese played such a pivotal role in your relationship 🙂
Wow, you totally nailed me on this one. I have been out of milk for two days and this morning I discovered our loaf of bread had mold on it, but there is a wedge of real Parmesan cheese in the bottom drawer of the fridge.
Happy Anniversary, Joanne! I’m so glad you two see eye-to-eye on all the important issues 🙂 What a delicious-looking dish. Pass the block of parm and the grater!
I don’t eat parmesan that regularly but when I do I want some good stuff and not dandruff. Love the eggplants with pasta and so amazed to hear you and The Boy have been together a year – seems like only yesterday you got together – but not amazed that you two are going strong – sounds like you are a great couple who are there for each other in the tough times and have fun in the good times
Hi Joanne. I’m reading through your blog this morning because I haven’t been able to for a while, and I just wanted to say I’m enjoying a lot of the recipes and stories you’ve posted over the past couple of months. I recently discovered my love of eggplant, particularly of the stuffed variety, so this recipe definitely has my attention. Looks delicious!
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