No, my weight has not dropped that much. What is going skinny is my Eggplant Parmigiana, since I radically changed my recipe after stumbling on this post by Mike at The Iron You. Mike’s blog line is “Eat Well – Exercise More – Become a Healthier You”. I can definitely sign below that. He knows how to match nutrition with a challenging exercise routine, and his posts are always super-fun to read. Anyway, he started that particular article with a mild rant about the way most people approach this classic dish. Reading it, I was forced to admit to being guilty of some of the crimes. Granted, I’ve never went to the extent of frying my eggplant slices, but I definitely used a heavy hand with the cheese and sauce. My version of eggplant parm made me leave the table feeling heavy and sluggish, a feeling I don’t care for at all. Mike proves that there’s no reason for it. Just a few tweaks and you will have a fantastic dish, still able to carry the label of comfort food, but considerably lighter than 99% of the recipes in restaurants, cookbooks, and the blogosphere. I hope you will give this version a try, it will knock your socks off. And, apparently in English that is a very good thing.
SKINNY EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA
(very slightly modified from The Iron You)
3 medium eggplants
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I omitted due to our vampire genes)
1 29 oz / 820 gr can diced tomato
1 cup / 1.8 oz / 50 gr Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons almond milk (my adaptation)
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt, divided
black ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease with some olive oil. Set aside.
Cut each eggplant lengthwise in 1/4 inch slices, liberally sprinkle with salt on one side, and add the slices back together, tightly assembling the eggplant and wrapping with plastic wrap. Leave them over the counter for about 20 minutes. You will notice a darkish liquid forming inside the package. Open the package over the sink, and briefly rinse the slices, drying them with paper towels.
Arrange the eggplant slices on a single layer on the baking sheets. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the slices begin to turn deep brown on top. Remove the slices to a platter and allow them to cool slightly before proceeding.
In the meantime make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute’ for 5 minutes, until onion begins to golden. Add diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt, basil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside.
Lightly grease with 1 tablespoon of olive oil the bottom and sides of an 8 by 12-inch baking pan. (a brownie pan works perfectly). Beat two eggs with the almond milk and reserve. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with some tomato sauce and arrange eggplant slices on top to form a uniform layer. Cover the eggplant with some tomato sauce, some Parmigiano cheese and top with 2 tablespoons of beaten eggs . Repeat to make 3 layers, making sure to end with a uniform layer of tomato sauce and top with the remaining cheese.
Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes until hot and beginning to brown. Let rest at for 10 minutes before serving.
to print the recipe, click here
And now it’s time for me to brag a little… Many years ago, I sent a cooking tip to Fine Cooking magazine, and my tip won the best of the issue! I got several cool gifts, including a salad spinner I still own, and love. It was a nice surprise to win. The cooking tip I submitted was what I just shared here with you, the way I draw the bitter juices out of eggplant. Most instructions involve salting the slices and weighing them down, or submerging them in salted water. I find my method very convenient, and quite efficient. It is explained in detail in the recipe, in case you missed it. The secret is to tighten the package of plastic well around the eggplant.
I cut the eggplant lengthwise, and when assembling the dish, each layer goes in one orientation, so that they criss-cross. That makes slicing the casserole a lot easier later. Also, since the beaten eggs are a little hard to spread over the layers, I added a touch of almond milk to thin it, a la egg wash. You can omit it, or use milk or even water if you prefer, but don’t add too much, just enough to make it easier to spread.
It was so much fun to make this dish, that I feel like sharing a couple of shots of the process…
It is very important to let the dish rest for at least 10 minutes, but longer will be better. Next day, leftovers were perfect warmed up for a few minutes in the microwave. In fact it tasted even better than the first day, so if you have a dinner party to host, this could be a nice option to make in advance. It is also gluten-free, in case you have friends with gluten issues.
We loved this preparation so much, there is no way I’m going back to my former recipe! I also think that if you cut the eggplant parmigiana in small squares they could work well as appetizers for a dinner party. Substantial for an appetizer course, but so very delicious! You would definitely have to cut it the following day, because when it comes out of the oven it will be too tricky to do it.
Mike, thanks again for the wonderful take on one of our favorite eggplant preparations!
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