Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mangia, parmagiana!

In honor of our upcoming traditional holiday, we have a somewhat traditional pizza.

And a clever way to get a kid to try something that might otherwise make him run screaming from the room.

You should remember from our meatball sojourn that I dislike actually "tricking" someone into eating something he doesn't like. Sorry, Jessica Seinfeld, but pureeing things and hiding them in cake batter doesn't teach a kid to like spinach. It teaches him you'll lie to him for your own purposes.

But parmagiana can make a kid receptive to a style, just enough for you to change up what that style might cover. The Parmagiana Principle, anyone?

Chicken, veal or eggplant, a crispy cutlet of something sautéed until golden, then sauced with rich marinara and smothered in melted cheese is a classic staple of any Italian restaurant. Just the name conjures up images of checkered tablecloths and Chianti-bottle candleholders.

Parmagiana is how my mom got me to eat both veal and eggplant for the first time. Both are favorites of mine today that I would never have experienced otherwise. She didn't trick me with a fried slice of eggplant and tell me it wasn't chicken after I swallowed the first bite. She told me up front it was something new, but it would taste kind of like the chicken parmagiana I loved, so I was willing to give it a try.

Admittedly, I don't have to do this for my son. At almost 2 years old, eggplant is just about his favorite thing on the planet. But I have gotten other kids (and a few adults) to expand their culinary viewpoints in a few easy steps via a good parmagiana. My picky niece and nephews actually volunteered to try it at Alfredo's in Epcot. (I was so proud.)

And since it’s already two thirds of a pizza, why not go the extra step and settle the whole succulent mélange on a crust? As a pizza, parmagiana goes from retro-restaurant chic to casual culinary fun.

Got a particularly picky picky eater? Don't use the fancy Italian word. Call it Chicken Nugget Pizza. What kid could possibly say no?

1 pre-baked pizza crust
1 pound breaded chicken fingers (Does your deli counter have chicken fingers, the good all-white-meat kind? That’s what you want. You can also use homemade or frozen breaded chicken cutlets cut into strips.)
1 c. spaghetti sauce (or see the Classico sauce recipe)
1 green pepper, sliced
1 c. shredded mozzarella
¼ c. parmesan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pizza crust on baking sheet.

Cut chicken fingers crosswise into bite-size chunks and arrange over crust. Pour sauce over chicken. Place green pepper in microwave-safe bowl with about ¼ c. water. Cover and cook on high 1 minute. Drain. Scatter peppers over chicken. Combine cheeses and sprinkle over crust. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cheese should be melted and chicken heated through.


Veal – Substitute one pound of breaded veal cutlets for the chicken.

Eggplant – Slice one small eggplant crosswise into even slices. Season with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry quickly in hot oil (part olive for flavor, part vegetable, peanut or canola for high temperature cooking). Substitute for chicken.

Extra Extra!!!!

Foreign Food Facts: In Italy, veal Parmagiana is called cotolette alla Bolognese. Loosely translated, that means Bologna slice. (Source:

No comments:

Post a Comment