Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lightened Up Eggplant Parmesan… and a visit from Becky

Have you ever made a friend without meeting them in real life??  My fabulous blogging community has introduced me to so many people over the years, but a few of them are particularly special.  Such is the case with my friend, Becky, of Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves.

I have to admit, when I first starting reading her blog, I somehow got it in my head that the last word in the title was "loaves" not loves, but to this day when I think of her I think of sharing a loaf of bread with her, perhaps slathered with butter and sweet strawberry jam and alongside a cup of steaming coffee.  And someday, I'm really going to do that.

I've been reading Becky's blog almost since the day I entered the blog world, and I feel like I know her, her husband, her adorable little pup Bailey and even a few of her neighbors.  Becky has a heart of gold and a talent for food that has me visiting her kitchen often.  

While today my real life travels have taken me a different direction (I'll have more on that later), I'm ever so thankful to Becky to have taken care of dinner for my mom and the kids back at home.

Becky, one of these days we will share a meal in real life… I'm looking forward to it!


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Lightened Up Eggplant Parmesan… a Guest Post from Becky 


Hi! I’m Becky from Baking and Cooking a Tale of Two Loves, and I am honored to be blogging for Kim today.  She and her husband are on a well-deserved cruise (without kids) for their 20th Wedding Anniversary. Congratulations!  Have a glass of wine for me.

Kim was one of the first bloggers that I met, and one of my best supporters, when I first started blogging over three years ago. Kim has a son and daughter, now a Freshman and Senior in High School, plus her husband, so she is a busy Mom. Kim is always making marvelous, healthy meals, desserts, and snacks, and I have made many of them. She is also an accomplished photographer. I’m sure that you have seen many of her photos on her blog, and Facebook. So, when I was asked to be a guest blogger, I wanted to make a healthy dish as well.


Lightened Up Eggplant Parmesan might sound like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. I substituted lower fat Mozzarella for full fat Mozzarella, and Part Skim Ricotta for full fat Ricotta. In addition, I used fresh grated Parmesan cheese, and the taste was incredible. This dish tastes like Lasagna without the noodles, and all of those carbs. Layers of melted cheese between roasted eggplant and ricotta filling. 


The eggplant was roasted, instead of breaded and fried, then layered with a homemade red sauce and the cheeses.  Kim’s family eats and drinks a lot of vegetables, so I didn’t think that eggplant would be a problem for them. Eggplant doesn’t really have a taste of its own, and takes on the flavor of the sauce in the dish, so it is a lot like zucchini, in that respect. I used our homemade Marinara Sauce with Fresh tomatoes, or you can use a basic ***Marinara recipe.  If you are really in a pinch, you could use a jar of Trader Joe’s Arrabiata Sauce, I won’t tell.

If you have never cooked with eggplant before, one thing that you have to do before you roast the eggplant is to lightly salt the eggplant, and let the excess moisture drain out of the eggplant, so your dish isn’t watery. Lay eggplant slices on layers of paper towels or place in your colander for about 1/2 hour. Then you can proceed with roasting the Eggplant.

Lightened Up Eggplant Parmesan 
Inspired by Gina’s Skinny Taste
  • 1 large eggplant (2 lbs)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 12 oz fat free ricotta I used Part Skim
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Pecorino Romano, I used freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 cups reduced fat mozzarella
  • 3 cups homemade tomato sauce**
  • salt
Start by making the sauce if you don't have any already made. While the sauce simmers, slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lightly salt the slices and put in a colander or lay on paper towels to release excess moisture for about 1/2 hour. Do not skip this step, or your dish might be watery.
Preheat oven to 450°. Brush eggplant lightly with olive oil on both sides and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way through until eggplant is golden brown.

In a medium bowl combine ricotta, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

In a 9x12 baking dish, put a little sauce on the bottom of the dish and put a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the dish.Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and sauce until everything is used up. Top with sauce and the mozzarella cheese and the remaining grated cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and everything is bubbling, about 30 minutes at 400°F. Remove foil and bake an additional 8-10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it sit about 10 minutes before cutting.  Enjoy!

***Marinara Sauce
2 /Tbsp olive oil
1 med chopped onion
1/2c finely chopped carrots
3 cloves garlic crushed
2- 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
½ c red wine, optional
1 8 oz can tomato sauce, if needed
1 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
Fresh basil
Sugar to taste

Directions:

In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and garlic and cook until soft, 2-3 minutes.

Add  dry spices and all other ingredients into the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes, until thickened.  Add basil, and tomato sauce for a thicker sauce.

5 comments:

  1. Kim,
    Thank you so much for letting me visit your wonderful blog, and meet all of your readers. Maybe your next trip will be to Chicago, so we can have that lunch
    date:)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've had the joy of having breakfast with Becky. She's a wonderful, kind person and yes, you'd love being with her.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love eggplant parm and feel guilty about it sometimes, but this one is nice and light. I see how you got loaves, now you have me thinking about it. I hope one day all of us get the chance to meet up something. Have fun on your trip, congrats.
    -Gina-

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love eggplants although I am seriously allergic to it. It's a nice and simpler version.

    ReplyDelete

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