August 24, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan: A Healthier Way to Delicious

Last night was cold, dark, and rainy.

The Eggplant Parmesan was warm and comforting. Like a big hug.


It was a tiring Monday made better by this big baked dish of deliciousness. Last Monday I bought something new and exciting: a counter top sized brick oven. Since then I've been giving it as much love as I possibly can. Since I really really love it, that's an easy thing to do. First, I baked the panko-encrusted eggplant slices:


Then I layered everything in the dish: fresh basil-tomato sauce I'd made on Sunday night after returning from New York City, the eggplant slices on top, then the secret cheese filling and slices of mozzarella. Repeat. Top with more sauce and bake.

I couldn't help but peer into the bright little oven door. 


The sauce bubbled up the edges and the melting cheese slowly browned. The entire apartment filled with the savory aroma of tomatoes and cheese, the sweet tang of basil.

M and I heaped big portions onto our plates. Sitting at our bar-height table in the window, we watched the rain fall from the dark sky and down onto the empty street below. Philadelphia needed the rain. We needed a reason to fill our bellies with something warm and smothery. Between bites of cheese, sauce, and toasty eggplant, M said, "I can't wait for Fall."


I couldn't agree more.

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan: serves 4. Recipe adapted from Sept 2010 Cooking Light's deconstruction of Eggplant Parmesan into a healthier version. In my recipe, I make a few additional swaps for a lighter and delicious dish.

Ingredients: 
Eggplant:
1  large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 T  water
1 cup of breadcrumbs: half whole wheat and half panko
1/8 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 - 1/2 inch slices of peeled eggplant
Cooking spray
Filling:
1/2  cup  torn fresh basil
1/8  cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
1 1/2  teaspoons  minced garlic
1/4  teaspoon  salt
8 oz (half a container) Non-fat cottage cheese
1  large egg, lightly beaten
Remaining ingredients:
12 oz. tomato-basil pasta sauce (or your favorite jarred sauce)
1/4  teaspoon  salt
4 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
1/3  cup light feta cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Whisk egg and water in one dish, and combine breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in another. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg and allow the excess to drip off. Then dredge in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and bake for 30 minutes, rotating the pan after 15. Combine the ingredients for the cheese filling in a bowl. 
In a baking dish coated with cooking spray, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Layer the baked eggplant, a dash of salt, a thin layer of sauce, half of the cottage cheese filling, then half the mozarella slices and feta. Repeat the layers, ending with the remainder of the sauce.
Cover tightly with tin foil sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil layer and bake again for another 10 minutes. Serve with whole wheat pasta if desired.

3 comments:

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  2. Made this last night. Cut down the baking time by about 1/3, only because it was late and I was starving! Still turned out great! Very yummy!

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  3. I'm so glad you make it, LC! Isn't it delicious? Kudos for cutting down the baking time... it really is a big lengthy!

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