Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

I had a marathon of sharing zucchini recipes, so I figured I should do the same for eggplant. My cache of eggplant recipes doesn't come close to rivaling the ones I had for zucchini, but I've got a few gems to share that helped my turn my healthy eggplant crop into many delicious meals.

I have to start by saying that I did not pick this eggplant Parmesan recipe because it was lower in calories, but because it was easy. There's no doubt that deep-fried eggplant is absolutely delicious, but I do not have the patience for all that when I'm trying to dinner on the table after a long day of work. Instead of the exhaustive process of breading and frying, these eggplant slices roast while you throw together a short-cut sauce using already prepared marinara sauce. A little layering, a generous topping of mozzarella and Parmesan, and a few more minutes in the oven produce a big of pan of bubbling, cheesy goodness. The one traditional element this dish is missing is the breading, and if I made it again I would revive that with a sprinkling of buttery panko bread crumbs on top.

It's sad to see summer go, but bring on the fall foods! It can be so easy to overindulge and hibernate as the temperatures drop, but this hearty meal keeps it healthy without feeling like low-cal eating.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
adapted from Martha Stewart
serves 4

1 large or multiple smaller eggplants (2 pounds total), sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 cup homemade or best-quality store-bought marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange eggplant on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush eggplant on both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and very tender, 20 to 25 minutes, turning slices and rotating sheets halfway through.

2. Meanwhile, make sauce: Off heat, in a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup milk, flour, and garlic. Gradually whisk in remaining 3/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until pink sauce has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Alternate layers of baked eggplant with pink sauce. Dollop with remaining 1/4 cup marinara sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake on upper rack until browned and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes.

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