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A few weeks ago, I woke up from a dream about Marcella Hazan, the cooking teacher and writer who died last week at age 89.

Throughout that summer morning, she was on my mind and I finally decided to tell her I'd been thinking about her.

It was easy to do, as Hazan was both Internet- and Facebook-savvy. She often weighed in on conversations about food — one time to tell me she never recommended scaling salmon, as the scales add flavor — and seemed to check Facebook frequently. She had nearly 5,000 friends.

She responded to my post, in which I asked how she was doing, by telling me, in the same sort of matter-of-fact manner with which she wrote her recipes, what it was like to age.

She didn't complain at all, merely described just what was going on with her. She tired easily, she said, but still enjoyed both cooking and eating.

I was lucky to have met her and her beloved husband, Victor Hazan — theirs was a true love story — a few times, including once when I interviewed them together at Robert Mondavi Winery, where she was teaching a class. Yet I know her best, as most of us do, through her extraordinary books: cookbooks like "The Classic Italian Cookbook" (Knopf, 1983) that brought true Italian cooking into our kitchens, our homes and our lives.

She was and remains a treasure, a guiding light who takes us by the hand and shows us the joys of simple, real food, cooked with love and wisdom.

I've chosen today's recipes from "Marcella's Italian Kitchen" (Knopf, 1986) in honor of the fabulous eggplant in our farmers markets right now.

Eggplant is something I've never had an intuitive relationship with, and Hazan's recipes are always a source of delicious inspiration.

Be sure to read the recipe all the way through before beginning.

It is not difficult, but you need to be certain that you have the right containers.

<strong>Marcella Hazan's Pickled Raw Eggplant</strong>

<em>Makes 1 quart</em>

2 1/2 pounds long, thin eggplant, washed and stemmed

5 or 6 small hot peppers (about 2 1/2 inches long and 1/2 inch thick), washed and stemmed

2 dozen fresh mint leaves, wiped clean

1 quart pickling jar with a large opening

6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and minced

— Kosher salt

1 tall jar or glass that will fit snugly inside the pickling jar

1 stone or other weight, such as a small, heavy lid

1 cup red wine vinegar

— Extra virgin olive oil

Cut each eggplant into 3-inch pieces. Slice the pieces lengthwise as thinly as possible.

Cut the peppers into 1-inch pieces.

Put a layer of eggplant slices over the bottom of the jar, add 1 or 2 pieces of pepper, 2 mint leaves and a bit of garlic. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat until you have used all the eggplant.

Every now and then, use the tall jar or glass to press down on the layers.

Press the tall jar into the pickling jar and invert both jars into a bowl. Set the weight on top of the pickling jar, so that it is pressing down on the other glass.

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Set in a safe corner, cover lightly with a tea towel and let rest 24 hours, during which time the eggplant will shed its liquid.

Turn the two containers right side up, remove the inner one and pour the vinegar over the eggplant. Return the inner container, invert them again and let rest, with the weight in place, for 12 hours, so that excess vinegar drains out.

After 12 hours, right the containers and remove the inner one. Add olive oil to completely cover the ingredients, close the jar with its lid and refrigerate.

The eggplant is ready to enjoy at this point and it will keep, refrigerated, for several months.


This recipe, Hazan tells us as she introduces it, was inspired by eggplant and pork meatballs that Hazan enjoyed at a Sardinian dinner.

<strong>Marcella Hazan's Eggplant and Pork Loaf</strong>

<em> Makes 4 to 6 servings</em>

3 medium eggplants, washed and charred over a high flame (see Note below)

1 pound ground pork shoulder

3 tablespoons chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

1 egg

1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated pecorino or similar cheese

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Let the charred eggplants cool until easy to handle. Peel them, cut off their stems and, if they contain a lot of seeds, remove as many as you can. Chop the eggplant, transfer to a bowl and let the juice drain away.

Coarsely chop the eggplant and put it in a mixing bowl.

Add the pork, onion, garlic, parsley, egg, cheese and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the eggplant and mix thoroughly.

Select a baking dish that will hold the mixture in a 2-inch layer and use the remaining olive oil to coat the dish and then dust it with half the breadcrumbs, distributing them evenly so that they stick to the bottom and the sides of the pan.

Spoon the eggplant mixture into the pan and use a rubber spatula to spread it evenly. Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on top.

Set the pan on the top rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into it comes out nearly dry.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the sides of the loaf from the pan and invert it onto a serving board or plate. Let rest a few minutes longer, then cut into slices or wedges and serve.

<strong>Note:</strong> To cook the eggplants, set them over a high burner or under a broiler.

When the skin is charred, use flat tongs (not serrated) to turn the eggplant and continue until it has been evenly charred all over. Be careful not to pierce the skin, or liquid from the eggplant will leak.


Hazan had a lot of reservations about pasta salad and its ubiquitous popularity in the United States, and I agree with her assessment that it must be enjoyed very soon after it is made and not stored in deli cases and a succession of refrigerators.

<strong>Marcella Hazan's Spaghetti Salad with Eggplant and Pepper Dressing</strong>

<em> Makes 4 to 6 servings</em>

— Kosher salt

1 medium eggplant, washed, charred, cooled and peeled

1 medium sweet red pepper, roasted, seeded, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 small scallions, washed, trimmed and minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

— Black pepper in a mill

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 pound spaghettini

Fill a large pot two-thirds full with water, season generously with salt and bring to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, pull or cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then tear it into lengthwise strips.

Remove as many of the seeds as possible, transfer the eggplant and its juices to a bowl, and use a fork to mash it until it is creamy.

Add the diced pepper and the scallion, along with the ? cup of olive oil.

Season with salt, add several generous turns of black pepper, and stir well.

Add the lemon juice and parsley, stir, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Let rest.

When the water boils, add the spaghettini and stir until the water returns to a boil. Cook according to package directions, stirring now and then, until the pasta is al dente.

Set a wide, shallow bowl on your work surface and coat it generously with extra virgin olive oil.

Drain the pasta (do not rinse it), transfer it to the bowl and use two forks to toss it repeatedly, so that each strand is coated with olive oil; if necessary, add a few more drops of oil. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

When the spaghettini is cooled, add the sauce, toss and serve.

<em>Michele Anna Jordan hosts "Mouthful" each Sunday at 7 p.m. on KRCB 90.9 & 91.1 FM. Email Jordan at michele@micheleannajordan.com. You'll find her blog, "Eat This Now," at pantry.blogs. pressdemocrat.com.</em>

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