With deepest apologies to those who take a dim view of the eggplant ... be forewarned, its on the menu again today. I knew I wanted to make Marcella's sauce this week and I wasn't quite sure what I'd do with it ... until my remaining two eggplant cried out for sauce and cheese ... and so did the husband! That dude loves him some eggplant parm. And, really, what's not to love? Its a wonderful meatless meal. Soooo luscious and satisfying. The only unlovable aspects are the seemingly endless frying of the slices and the resulting abundance of oil. I'm happy to report that I've resolved both issues in one go. I've baked the eggplant instead of frying it and I've tweaked the dish to make it more acceptable from a South Beach point of view. I'm glad, because I've missed it.
Though we both grew up on the dish, eggplant parm was also in danger of becoming one of the forgotten here in Divaland. My beloved grandma Pam made the world's best eggplant and, oddly enough, the husband's dad makes an amazing version that's pretty darn close to her's. Frankly, its been years since I've made it. It just seemed too heavy and fat-laden and I'd just kind of written it off. Then, on the way home from Jersey the other night, the husband asked for it and suggested I could find a way to make it healthier. I'm happy to report that I have. I think grandma Pam would approve of my new and improved version and I know the husband loved it. He practically licked the plate last night. This dish is comfort food at its absolute best: healthy, delicious and altogether satisfying. I hope you'll try it.
South Beach Friendly Eggplant Parm:
- 2 large eggplants
- extra-virgin olive oil
- one 16 oz. container of Eggbeaters or other egg substitute
- 1 cup of whole wheat bread crumbs*
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 or more cups of Basic Tomato Sauce (or jarred if you must)
- some shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese for topping the dish
- additional grated Parmesan cheese for topping
Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/4 thick slices - no need to peel. Pour some of the egg substitute into a large, shallow bowl and set aside. Combine the bread crumbs and 1/2 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese in a large, shallow dish and place next to the egg substitute. One slice at a time, dip the eggplant into the egg substitute, then dredge in the breadcrumb/parm mixture to coat lightly. Place the coated rounds on the baking sheets in a single layer and repeat until all of the eggplant has been breaded, adding additional egg wash a/o breadcrumbs to the bowls as needed.
Bake the coated eggplant for 15 minutes, turn the slices over, return to the oven and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until the slices are crisp and golden.
Ladle some of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 7 (or whatever size you've got) glass or Pyrex baking dish to coat the bottom. Arrange some slices of the eggplant over the sauce to fill the bottom of the dish. Cover with more tomato sauce and dust lightly with the shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese. Repeat, layering all of the eggplant slices and additional sauce and cheese as needed. Coat the top layer of eggplant with sauce, add a final dusting of the cheeses and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden brown.
As written, this recipe will serve 4 to 6 depending upon your portion sizes. It can easily be doubled or tripled ... I'll let you do the math.
*If you're not on the South Beach, feel free to use prepared flavored bread crumbs in place of the whole wheat. I made my own by toasting 4 slices of sugar-free whole grain bread and grinding them up into crumbs. That would be my suggestion if you're trying to avoid white flour. It worked very well. If anyone knows of a brand of prepared whole wheat bread crumbs, shout it out ... I'd be grateful for the tip.
Meanwhile, here's a very lame picture of the finished product ... again with apologies ... we were too hungry to set-up the shot and make it pretty!
Welcome back, eggplant parm, I love you even more than I did before. Enjoy!