Monday, February 27, 2012

Lightened Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant was on sale at the grocery store this week, and I made the mistake of shopping while hungry. Fortunately, I limited my impulse buys to the fruit and veggie area, but I still came home with a lovely purple eggplant.

I wasn't entirely sure what I would do with said eggplant, but I watched The Chew a week or two ago where one of the features was eggplant parmesan. I remembered this particular episode because they talked about how eggplant is in the nightshade family, which was a trivia clue later that week at our local trivia spot; yay for daytime television! Thus, pondering my eggplant, I decided the natural thing to do would be to try my hand at my first-ever eggplant parm.

I don't like to fry things. I love fried food, but I hate the smell of fried oil that permeates the kitchen. My waistline doesn't particularly care for fried things either. The recipe below is my spin on a combination of these two recipes: Martha Stewart's Lighter Eggplant Parmesan and EatingWell's Eggplant Parmesan.

Lightened Eggplant Parmesan

1 large eggplant (cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds)
3 eggs
1 c. italian-style breadcrumbs
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. 2% milk
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1 c. marinara sauce (I used some I had frozen from a batch a few months ago)
1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 c. shredded parmesan

Preheat oven to 450F. Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork until scrambled. Combine the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Dip the eggplant slices in the egg until covered and then in the crumb-cheese mixture, and place on a greased jellyroll pan (I don't grease, but I have silicone pan-liners (which I absolutely LOVE)). Bake until lightly browned and crispy, flipping halfway through, approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 of the milk with the flour and garlic in a saucepan until thoroughly combined. Add the rest of the milk and 1/2 of the marinara sauce and whisk until thoroughly combined. Turn the heat to medium, and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce begins to boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. In this particular case, thickened meant I could see the bottom of the pan when whisking the sauce. Remove from heat.

I used a large silicone meatloaf pan, but I would imagine this would work well in an 8x8 or metal loaf pan, but be sure to grease thoroughly. Spread half of the remaining marinara (about 1/4 c.) in the bottom of your dish. Place a single layer of the baked eggplant, and top with the tomatoey b├ęchamel. Repeat until you have filled the pan with your eggplant and sauce. Pour the remaining 1/4 c. of marinara over the top, and sprinkle with the shredded mozzarella and parmesan. Cook for approximately 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has browned, as below.

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