Joe Bastianich's Pasta alla Norma is proof that eggplant is in fact as delicious as it looks. [Photo: Blake Royer]

Pasta alla Bastianich: The eggplant melts effortlessly into the sauce of this Bastianich pasta dish. Whoever said that the veggie is "greasy," "bitter," and "slimy" clearly hasn't tried Pasta alla Norma.

Whipped Up: This easy-to-make yet sophisticated starter, whipped sheep's milk ricotta, is one of our favorite dishes at Locanda Verde in New York.

Pasta-Lite: A great alternative to a meaty ragu, this Mushroom "Bolognese" is still rich and hearty, but much less taxing on the waistline.

A Question of Fried Bread: Bread pakora, an Indian street food dish bread deep fried in a batter of chickpea flour and Indian spices, begs the question: Is bread even better deep fried? The answer is obvious.

Summer Figs: Savor the remnants of this year's plentiful fig season with this simple Fig and Speck Salad. The sweet, jammy fruit's flavors come through best when paired with a meaty, pork-y partner of your choice. Speck to the rescue!

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