Dora Barbaresi (my grandmother) and Freddie Donroe on their wedding day in September 1940.
Freddie was the son of Francis Donarumo and Margherita Avallone who were both immigrants from Naples in southern Italy. Freddie was the youngest (and, as Nonni is quick to point out, the tallest) of their nine children. Once they were of age, Freddie and his brothers and sisters all anglicized their last name to Donroe, and that’s the name that Nonni took. To my knowledge, this is the origin of all the Donroes in this country, for better or for worse.
This is one of my favorites. The eggplant is divine, but I also love finding morsels of Italian sausage, or Nonni’s meatballs, tucked within the layers.
1 large eggplant (or 2 smaller ones)
¼ cup canola oil, or more
2 cups flour (or bread crumbs)
1 recipe homemade tomato sauce, sausage included
½ cup Parmesan cheese, or more
Salt to taste
Cut eggplant into ¼-inch thick slices. Heat oil in large frying pan. Dip eggplant slices in egg and then flour. Fry until golden brown on each side, adding more oil as necessary, and set on paper towels to drain. Season with salt.
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a 9x12-inch pan, put a thin layer of tomato sauce. Add layers of fried eggplant, tomato sauce (with sausage cut into pieces), and Parmesan cheese, ending with cheese on top. Bake for about half an hour, or until warmed through.
Dora [Barbaresi] Donroe
New Haven, Connecticut
Stack of crispy, fried eggplant, pre-sauce.