Saturday, October 10, 2009

Experiment with Eggplant

We’ve discussed on this blog before how difficult many of us find it to eat 3-5 servings of vegetables a day.  I too struggle with that even though I tend to lose more weight in the weeks that I eat lots and lots of vegetables.  Some of the tricks I’ve found for increasing my weekly intake of veggies is to experiment with new or seldom-seen-by-me vegetables, especially when they are in season, and to find ways to increase the amount of veggies in my main dishes. 

I’ve had a lot of luck with eggplant, which is in season now.  It wasn’t completely unknown to me.  I’ve always liked eggplant parmigiana at Italian restaurants and had even had it at Chinese restaurants or in my mom’s ratatouille.  I needed to find ways to incorporate it into my own repertoire.  The following recipe is one of my favorite ways to do it.  It’s a lightened version of what I sometimes had at my favorite Italian restaurants.

Eggplant Parmigiana with Meat Sauce

1-teaspoon salt

2 medium egg

plants (1 to 1 ¼ pounds each), cut into ¼ inch slices

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs

1 cup diced onion

9 ounces broiled lean ground beef (Ha!  Like I ever bother – I cook it in the sauce)

4 cups low-sodium tomato sauce (I often use tomato puree)

2 cups stewed tomatoes

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

(I like to play with spices and add garlic, up the basil and oregano, and/or add Italian seasoning mix)

6 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese (I sometimes use low fat cottage cheese bc I think it has more flavor)

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2.  Sprinkle salt evenly over both sides of eggplant slices.  Place on large tray lined with paper towels to drain for 20 minutes.  (DON”T SKIP THIS! - PICTURED ABOVE)

3.  Dredge eggplant slices in breadcrumbs, coating both sides. 

Spray 2 nonstick baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray; divide eggplant slices evenly between prepared sheets and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

4.  Spray large saucepan with nonstick cooking spray; add onion and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except cheese and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

5.  In medium mixing bowl, combine cheeses.

6.  In 13-by-9 inch baking dish, layer 1-cup sauce, one-third of eggplant slices, 1-cup sauce, half the cheese mixture, 1-cup sauce, one-third of eggplant slices, 1-cup sauce, remaining cheese mixture, 1 cup sauce, remaining eggplant slices, and remaining sauce.

7.  Bake until bubbly and completely heated through, about 40 minutes.  (Note:  If it looks like it is overflowing the pan, bake it on a cookie sheet.)  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

Makes 8 servings

Each Serving Provides: 2 ½ proteins; 4 vegetables, ¼ bread, 10 optional calories

Per Serving:  300 Calories, 21g Protein, 13 g Fat, 28 g Carbohydrate, 307 mg Calcium, 653 mg Sodium, 49 mg Cholesterol, 5 g Dietary Fiber

Original recipe on pp 198-199 of Weight Watchers Favorite Homestyle Recipes published in 1993.

This is not a quick recipe, but it is an absolutely delicious dish, and I just made it for myself again a couple of weeks ago.  Let me know what you think of it if you try making it. 

Do any of you have yummy suggestions for eggplant dishes or other ways to incorporate more vegetables into your diet?


MaryC on October 10, 2009 at 10:02 AM said...

This sounds delicious, Michelle. Have you ever cooked it ahead. I'm wondering how well it keeps. School days are so crazy that I end up eating poorly just because I'm too busy/tired to do a real meal.

One veggie dish I've done recently doesn't really have a recipe - I just kind of did it from what was available. My green market had zucchini and eggplant so I combined those two plus some garlic and greenbeans, tomatoes and onion and sauted them in a smidge of olive oil and served over quinoa. The quinoa I used has 6 grams of protein per 1/3 cup, 3 g of dietary fiber, very low salt (10 mg), and is about 160 calories per 1/3 cup (20 of them are fat calories.) I'm sure the veggies up the fiber and calories but I have no idea of the amnounts.

The mix was really delicious, but you could probably use whatever vegetables are available. It's probably pretty much like your mom's ratatouille except for the quinoa.

Michelle Butler on October 10, 2009 at 11:15 AM said...

Mary, I mostly cook for one so almost everything I make ends up being made ahead. I also hate to come home tired for work and having to figure out what to whip up from scratch. I made this a couple weekends ago and ate it all week. This particular recipe does get a little watery as it sits around, but it still tastes good all week. Definitely try it. It's really yummy.

Your recipe sounds good. I've not actually done much with quinoa bc I have a hard time finding it though I'm sure I could get it at whole foods. I use barley and lentils a lot though.

Your veggie recipe does sound good - and similar to my mom's ratatouille. She always uses whatever veggies are around.

Trish Milburn (Tricia Mills) on October 10, 2009 at 11:22 AM said...

I'm sure this is delicious for lovers of eggplant. Oddly, I'm don't like eggplant, even though I love zucchini and yellow squash.

Every time I see quinoa, I think of that yummy dish I had that the Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian.

Michelle Butler on October 10, 2009 at 12:04 PM said...

Oh, yeah, that was delicious. What was it again? Maybe I can try to recreate it.

lauragrahambooth on October 10, 2009 at 1:35 PM said...

Michelle, I made this for my family this week, and they loved it. Thanks again for sharing the recipe!

My kidlet won't touch meat sauce, so I chopped up some portabella mushrooms and sauteed them with the onions.

The next time I make it, I will probably add a layer or two of chopped spinach to get that florentine flavor (another way to sneak in a vegetable!).

Michelle Butler on October 10, 2009 at 5:06 PM said...

Laura, let me know if it's good with spinach. I'm so glad your family liked it.

Tawny on October 10, 2009 at 10:07 PM said...

Ooooh, love the idea of making this with the portabellas like Laura suggested! Will have to give it a try.

Authorness on October 11, 2009 at 1:07 AM said...

Michelle, this looks delish! My husband's allergic to eggplant, so I can only cook with it when he's out of town. I like to use it in a vegie lasagna with pumpkin, mushrooms, zucchini and plenty of tomato sauce. Yum!

Michelle Butler on October 11, 2009 at 5:46 PM said...

Tawny, best of luck with the recipe!
Authorness, I never thought of pumpkin in a lasagna. How interesting.

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