There’s nothing more comforting than a hearty Italian dinner! When I am celebrating a special occasion, my Italian wine of choice is typically a Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo, but most nights I gravitate toward a fruit forward Barbera from Piedmont.
The Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is always a reliable option. Pio Cesare has been producing quality wines for five generations. Barbera is a grape varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy. It tends to have vibrant fruit characteristics with high acidity and mellow tannins. This is a versatile wine that generally drinks best when young and pairs beautifully with an array of menu items from eggplant parmesan to pizza to pasta carbonara! Barbera also tends to be one of the best values at your local Italian eatery.
Tasting Notes: 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
The 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is an elegant structured wine with aromas of juicy plum, blackberry & cherry with complex notes of cedar, tobacco, anise, violet & sweet spice.
Damilano Barbera d’Asti,Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $16)
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
La Spinetta Ca di Pian Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $22)
Recipe: Baked Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan (Makes 6 large or 9 small pieces)
2 large egglplants (1/4 inch thick slices)
1 cup flour (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
1 cup breadcrumbs (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
2 eggs (whisked)
Olive Oil for sautéing
3 cups marinara sauce (preferably homeade)
16 oz mozzarella cheese (shredded)
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 package frozen spinach (defrosted & well drained)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Mix ricotta, 1 egg, parmesan, spinach, salt, pepper & Italian seasoning (set aside). Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 dishes in an assembly line.
Dredge eggplant in flour, egg and breadcrumb mixtures. Saute for 2-3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
In a 9×9 baking dish, add thin layer of marinara sauce followed by a layer of eggplant. Add ricotta mixture, a layer of mozzarella cheese and more tomato sauce. Repeat with another layer and top off final layer with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil for a golden crust. Depending on the size of the eggplant, you should have 2-3 layers. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. Let rest 15 minutes and serve!