Monday, March 22, 2010

Eggplant Parmesan

So, I made the eggplant parmesan on Saturday night and it was actually edible if not downright tasty. Of course it was 85 degrees on Saturday and I picked a recipe that calls for much oven baking which made it about 90 degrees in the kitchen.

First off, I have never ever (at least not knowingly) eaten an eggplant. So, besides trying a new recipe I was having a culinary adventure. About the only kind of adventure we go on these days.

Not only have I never eaten an eggplant, I've never peeled one and was a little perplexed as to how to go about it. A vegetable peeler like peeling a carrot? Nope, that doesn't work. So, I peeled it with a knife just like I'd peel an apple and was kind of surprised at how easy it was and how firm and dry the eggplant was. After peeling, you dip the eggplant in egg and milk and then in panko, the Japanese breadcrumbs, which are really cool if you've never tried them, they are already crispy and don't get all soggy in the cooking. Then you bake the eggplant, then put the casserole together and bake again.

It wasn't like OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING I'VE EVER EATEN, but more like, okay, this tastes pretty good, but then again, anything with spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese usually tastes pretty good. The eggplant does have a rather odd texture, kind of chewy and meaty, but really no flavor at all. All I tasted was the sauce and cheese and crunchy panko breading.

Would I fix this again? Maybe, but I think I'd have some whole grain pasta along with it, you don't use the whole jar of spaghetti sauce, so there's be enough sauce left for a side of pasta, and it wasn't the most filling dinner because we were hungry again a few hours later. But it is full of fiber and only 350 calories a serving.

Here's the recipe if you want to have a culinary adventure, too.

Oh, and why do they call it eggplant parmesan when there is no parmesan cheese involved?

Eggplant Parmesan

1/2 cup lowfat milk (we use nonfat milk)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups panko
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/4" thick slices (about 1 3/4 pounds)
cooking spray
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (24 oz) jar Newman's Own Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce-we used Ragu sweet tomato and basil because it was cheaper than the Newman's, but whatever
1 cup (4 oz) shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

1/ Preheat oven to 450- do this on a day when it is not 85 degrees outside
2/ Combine milk and eggs in a bowl, whisk together. Combine panko and next 5 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture; dredge in panko mixture. Arrange slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray ( I ended up using 2 cookie sheets because there were so many slices, and instead of cooking spray I just smeared some olive oil over the cookie sheets). Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Turn slices over and drizzle with oil. Bake an additional 15 minutes or until tender.
3/ Decrease oven temp to 375.
4/ Spoon 1/2 cup sauce into 11 x 7" baking dish (or whatever size you have, mine is like a lasagne sized dish). Layer half of eggplant slices over sauce. Spoon 1 cup sauce over eggplant. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over sauce. Repeat layering one more time with remaining eggplant, sauce, and cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until lightly brown and bubbly.

4 servings, 350 calories each, with a whopping 8 grams of fiber. Beware, this recipe may give you gas.

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