I read cookbooks and I read mysteries. And it’s a bonus when the mysteries reveal a few great meals!
One of my favorite series, written by the late Andrea Camilleri, is set in a fictional Sicilian coastal town. The protagonist, Inspector Salvo Montalbano fervently anticipates each meal and eats with gusto and complete concentration (no talking!). This pasta dish is often prepared by the faithful Adelina, his long-time housekeeper. Adelina prepares traditional Sicilian recipes and is very proud that Salvo so enjoys her cooking. The title, ‘n’casciata’, describes a baked pasta dish ‘encased’ (n’casciata) in layers of fried eggplant. I have, with my sincere apologies to Adelina, lightened and simplified this classic: the eggplant is not sliced and fried, but is diced, coated in olive oil and roasted in the oven AND I have swapped out the labor-intensive traditional beef ragu with a store-bought marinara. (I always use RAO’S marinara sauces; both the flavor and texture are close to homemade.)
I’m confidant Salvo would enjoy my version as well.