Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan- on the lighter side...

I haven't met an eggplant parmesan I didn't love!  Crispy, breaded eggplant nestled in rich tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.  What's not to love?  hummmm, the calories?

My goal with this recipe is to cut out some of those calories without losing the deliciousness of the eggplant parmesan.  It won't be a "skinny" recipe, but it will cut out some of them.

Eggplant Parmesan ready for the freezer
This recipe will serve 6 to 8.

2     eggplants (approx. 1 lb each), cut crosswise into rounds, about 1/2-inch thick
1     tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
oil spray (vegetable or olive oil)
1     cup all-purpose flour
1     tsp freshly ground black pepper
3     eggs, lightly beaten
8     ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
1     cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Tomato sauce:
2     tbsp olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste
2     cans diced tomatoes, 1 can blended until smooth in a blender and the other left as is.
1/4  cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper

For the tomato sauce
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes and cook briefly until fragrant.  Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer the sauce on medium-low until it thickens, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the basil.  Taste and add in salt and pepper.  Set aside.

For the eggplant
Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with the salt.  Toss to coat and let stand 30 minutes.  Wipe off excess salt with paper towels and remove as much liquid as possible.

Place the panko in the bowl of your food processor.  Add 1/2 the parmesan cheese and dried basil and pulse just a few times to mix.  Place in a shallow bowl.

Season the flour with salt and pepper and place in a shallow bowl.

Ready for breading- flour, egg and panko
Beat the eggs with a fork and place in a shallow bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place a rack in a shallow baking sheet.  Cover another baking sheet with foil to facilitate cleanup.

To bread the eggplant, place the three shallow dishes on your workspace in this order: flour, eggs, panko.
Dip the eggplant in the flour, then dip in the egg and finally coat it with the panko.  Make sure you remove the excess in each step and press the breadcrumbs into the eggplant.  Place the breaded eggplant slices on the foil covered baking sheet and place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Baked eggplant slices 
Remove from the refrigerator.  Place the slices on the rack and spray with cooking oil.  Put in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the slices are light golden brown on the top.  Turn the slices over and spray again with the cooking spray.  Return to the oven and continue baking until the slices are golden on each side.

Laddle sauce to cover the bottom of an ovenproof dish.  Place eggplant in the dish, top with more sauce and sprinkle with cheese.  You can also stack the eggplant, with cheese and sauce in between.  Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, when the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is golden.

If freezing: Cool the cheese topped eggplant slices and place each portion in a freezer bag. Do not close the bags until the eggplant slices are completely cooled.  Laddle tomato sauce into individual freezer bags or containers (separate from the eggplant).  Place everything in the freezer.  When re-heating, cover the bottom of a baking dish with a laddlefull of thawed and warmed tomato sauce- just enough to cover the bottom.  Place eggplant slices on top, add another layer of eggplant (with sauce and cheese in between layers) if you like, top with more sauce and sprinkle cheese.  Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly- about 30 minutes.

Serve with pasta and tomato sauce, maybe even add some meatballs.
Serve with a great salad and steamed veggies...
Make it gluten free by using a gluten free bread to make your own breadcrumbs.


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