Ciao'd after what seems like 40 days of rain. Cue Noah
Revelation. Even Marcella Hazan, the doyenne, the principessa of Italian cooking, plucked recipes from others. Marcella, like me, routinely inquired of both friends and strangers, "What did you cook last night?" "What are you cooking tonight?" I ask these questions at the meat counter, in front of the tomato stall at the farmer's market, on the tennis court, and when I'm texting with friends. It is an illuminating exercise. Some cooks will engage rhapsodically with whispers of spices (usually curry or cilantro) and the other I-need-to-cook cooks will shrug and nod to the chicken or ground beef.
When Marcella asked the "what did you" and "what are you" question to her mom's cleaning woman, Elisa, the cleaning woman exclaimed, " Patate maritate." Married potatoes. Marcella said, "Married to whom?" And Elisa, God bless her, said "Mozzarella."
BAKED SLICED POTATOES WITH MOZZARELLA AND PARMESAN
If you're doing the meatless Monday or any day meatless thing, this recipe is an ideal main course. If you prefer to serve the potatoes as a side, this dish marries well with roast or grilled poultry and meats. The potatoes should be sliced thinly. Either use a mandoline or a sharp knife.
1 pound boiling potatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
5 tablespoons fine, dry, unflavored bread crumbs
10 ounces whole-milk mozzarella, chopped fine or grated on a grater's largest holes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the potatoes into very thin slices. Put the slices in a bowl and toss them with two tablespoons of the olive oil.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, parsley, a generous dash or two of pepper, and the Parmesan. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and toss them to mix.
Grease the bottom and sides of a 2-quart baking dish and sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the bread crumbs on the bottom. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with one-quarter of the potatoes, overlapping them slightly. Spread one-third of the Parmesan mixture over the potatoes, and over this sprinkle one-third of the mozzarella. Repeat two more times, ending with a layer of potatoes. Top with the remaining bread crumbs and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Bake until the potatoes are tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Adapted from Marcella Hazan, Marcella's Italian Kitchen, Knopf, 1986.