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Video: Giada cooks up a delicious ladies’ night dinner

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    >> for a gathering? i have my gal pals, joy bauer, jill martin and jean chatzky. the three j's. crowd-pleasing favorite.

    >> the ladies are happy. you are so happy.

    >> all right. something to go along with that wine, shall we?

    >> besides the wine before you get out of control. a mediterranean salad.

    >> yum.

    >> that's healthy, right?

    >> yeah. it's healthy but flavorful. when people think healthy they think, eww, it's flavorless. there's no tomato sauce , with meatballs and crispy kale.

    >> delicious.

    >> i'm going to teach how to make these mini eggplant parms.

    >> you said you made this for the golden globes last time around?

    >> last year. i wanted everybody to have a little bit of comfort food but sometimes it can be heavy and very rustic. i wanted to make it dainty, elegant.

    >> something that celebrities would eat?

    >> that celebrities could eat in their beautiful gowns.

    >> excuse my ignorance, but i didn't know what it was.

    >> as in a roman king ?

    >> pharaoh.

    >> farrah faucet?

    >> let's start with the eggplant.

    >> i'm using japanese eggplant because they're long and lean.

    >> you like to make them pretty thin?

    >> yes. quarter inch or so. i like to do them on the bias. they're easy to eat.

    >> you don't peel them or anything?

    >> no peeling necessary, no salting necessary. that's why i love japanese eggplant .

    >> they're thinner, too, aren't they?

    >> they are thinner. you can find these at the grocery store. it's a wheat.

    >> a whole grain, right?

    >> puffed up wheat. it's a whole grain that's never been processed or anything.

    >> our girls' night menu here.

    >> eat up. eat up.

    >> we're going to bread it in flour first.

    >> that, and flour first. willie's here already.

    >> panko bread.

    >> it's girls' night.

    >> the guys are coming over.

    >> buffalo wings ?

    >> no buffalo wings here, guys.

    >> makes them really light. fry them for two minutes. you need the flour to protect the egg plant . egg white binder and panko. now that i've burned the shallots -- thank you, willie.

    >> she's going at you hard all day.

    >> all day.

    >> all day.

    >> now you add jarred tomato sauce as you're frying those.

    >> how is it going, girls? drinking that wine?

    >> this is the best segment ever.

    >> we have the recipes on our website. if you want to know.

    >> and meredith, coming up next with more yack, yack, yack.

    >> oh, no! test. test. test. test. test. test. test.

TODAY recipes
updated 1/22/2013 8:12:45 PM ET 2013-01-23T01:12:45

Recipe: Mini eggplant parmesan

  • For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup jarred marinara, such as GDL Tomato Basil or San Marzano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more) balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the eggplant:
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 2 Japanese eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch-thick, each cut on slight diagonal
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Small fresh basil leaves (garnish)

For the sauce:
Place the oil in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot and garlic to the saucepan. Stir over medium heat until very fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Simmer the sauce until flavors blend and the sauce thickens slightly, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Mix in the vinegar, salt, and pepper, then more vinegar if desired. Puree sauce in blender. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.)

For the eggplant:
Place flour and panko in medium bowls. Whisk egg whites in a third medium bowl until broken up and very frothy. Dip each eggplant slice in flour, then egg white, then panko to coat completely. Arrange eggplant on paper towels. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. )

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the oil in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until hot (the surface will appear to be shimmering). Add half of eggplant. Cook until deep golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side (or more if needed). Carefully (so the crispy crust does not break) transfer the eggplant to a paper towel lined plate. Fry the remaining eggplant. (Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

Toss the cheeses in a small bowl until well blended. Spread 1 generous teaspoon of sauce on each eggplant slice. Top each with a rounded teaspoon of cheese mixture; spread out to cover and press lightly to adhere. Transfer the eggplant slices to a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the cheese mixture melts and the eggplant is heated through and crisp, about 12 minutes. Transfer the mini eggplant Parmesans to a platter. Garnish each with 2 small basil leaves. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes to cool a bit and serve.

Serving Size

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Recipe: Mediterranean farro salad

  • 10 ounces farro (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into thin strips (about 4 ounces or 1 cup)
  • 3 ounces Parmesan, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 small bunch chives, snipped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups of water with the farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the farro is almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of the salt and simmer until the farro is tender, about 10 minutes longer. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the green beans and stir. Cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the cooked green beans to a bowl of ice water and let cool for 2 minutes. Drain the green beans.

Once the farro has cooled add the green beans, olives, red pepper, Parmesan, and chives. Stir to combine. In a small bowl mix together the sherry vinegar, olive oil, mustard, pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Pour the sherry vinaigrette over the farro salad. Toss to combine and serve.

Serving Size

Yield: 6 side-dish servings.

Recipe: Pizza Bianca with kale and meatballs

  • For the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the pizza:
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for oiling the baking sheet and for drizzling
  • 1 (1-pound) ball pizza dough
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese
  • 8 Classic Italian Turkey Meatball (recipe follows), halved
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium leaves kale, ribs removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the sauce:
In a heavy small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Add the bay leaf, nutmeg and garlic. Whisk over medium heat until the mixture thickens to sauce consistency and is smooth, about 6 minutes. Stir in the salt and pepper.

Remove and discard the bay leaf and garlic.

For the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a heavy non-stick 16-by-10-inch baking sheet with olive oil.

Using fingers, spread the dough over the prepared baking sheet into a rectangle shape. Drizzle the dough with olive oil. Spoon the sauce on top and spread evenly leaving a 1-inch border around the dough. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Arrange the meatballs, cut-side-down, on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the kale in an even layer on top of the meatballs. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes longer until the kale is crispy.

Cut into squares and serve.

Serving Size

Pizza yield: 4 servings. Prep time: 25 to 35 minutes. Cook time: 25 minutes.

Recipe: Classic Italian turkey meatballs

  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (See "cook's note")
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground dark turkey meat
  • 1 pound spicy Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

For the meatballs:
In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, milk, eggs, onion, Parmesan cheese, ketchup, basil, parsley, tomato paste, garlic, salt, and pepper. Using a wooden spoon, stir to blend. Add the ground turkey and sausage meat. Using fingers gently mix all the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Using a 1-ounce cookie scoop or a small ice cream scoop, form the meat mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls (about 22 to 24 meatballs). Place the meatballs on a heavy non-stick baking sheet, spacing apart. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until cooked through.


Cook's note: You can either finely chop the onion by hand or in a food processor. Coarsely chop the onion and add them to the processor bowl. Pulse until finely chopped.

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