Deconstructed Eggplant ParmesanCountry living, with all of its upside, comes with a few disadvantages. The one-hour round trip to the nearest full-service grocery has put a halt to my former habit of running to the market on a whim for a few ingredients. I've always loved having a well stocked pantry, but living in the country, it becomes essential.
On the recommendation of Bon Appetit magazine (April 2011, page 124) in an article called Buy American Eat Italian, I ordered (among other things) a half-dozen Jersey Farms crushed tomatoes from Primizie Fine Foods in the Bronx. At some level, this goes against my "buy local" ethos to have foods shipped via Fed Ex across the country, but let me tell you how worth it this was for this pantry staple.
Items for a Happy PantryThis is the best brand of canned tomato I've ever had. A fresh, sweet tomato scent popped up as I was opening the can. Super thick and rich, there was no watery separation of juice from the flesh. I could image spooning bites directly into my mouth, but instead, decided to gussy up the crushed tomatoes a bit first.
That's Some Tomato!Primizie sent along in the box a recipe for a 5-minute marinara sauce, which I immediately whipped up. The only change I made was to saute half of a small onion in the olive oil with the garlic before proceeding, and adding a good big pinch of the oregano at the end:
Primizie's 5-Minute Tomato Marinara SauceI first used the sauce on a pizza, topped with house-made Italian sausage and some other things. It was superb.
With the remaining sauce, I made a version of Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan that I knocked off from Kay at My Home Cooked Meals. (Hers is a little prettier, and do check out her site... she's a great teacher!) The rich, fresh tomato sauce really shone in this dish. Thanks, Kay, for the great idea.
LaVelle Vineyards, a nearby Willamette Valley winery, produces a Bordeaux blend from Columbia Valley grapes. 2008 Trilogy (Merlot, Cab Sauv and Cab Franc) has the unique huskiness of Hungarian oak, and stands up nicely to red-sauced pasta dishes or most anything off the grill. Yes, my tomatoes were from far, far away, but the wine, at least, was home-grown.
LaVelle Vineyards 2008 Trilogy
Back to Primizie Fine Foods. The Italian oregano and salt-packed anchovies (which I am enjoying as I write this, on a nice Romaine salad) that arrived are also stellar; just as lovely as the tomatoes. I had a question regarding my invoice, and a quick call to Becky at Primizie resulted in a friendly, quick answer. It means something to me when a company treats me like a valued customer, and that is definitely the way things are at Primizie. Even though I paid a small fortune to have heavy canned tomatoes shipped across the country, I will do it again for the quality and service they offer. Do give them a try.