Monday, May 21, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Lightened-Up Eggplant Parm

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Last week was a new experience for me; I actually taught someone else how to cook!  Don’t believe me?  It’s true.  At work, we’ve been having a “Biggest Loser” competition for the past 12 weeks.  I probably should have entered.  I could lose the extra pounds on my midsection.  And I’ve posted a few times before how we’re trying to eat a lot healthier (as a family and individually). 

Well, I finally got to put my good experience to use!  One of the women who competed in the competition (and won) asked me to show her how to cook a few of her favorite meals.  She is like a lot of other people who act amazed when I say I love cooking contests and cooking; she lacks confidence.

To help this along, she came over for our first “lesson” which was a lightened-up version of eggplant parmesan.  There were a few mishaps; like using the full container of ricotta when it was instructed to just use half.  But those were small in comparison to the things we learned.  I made homemade breadcrumbs and homemade spaghetti sauce which added to the complexity of the meal.  By the time we were done (and starving), we ate and she savored every bite, knowing that she mainly cooked it all by herself.  I enjoyed making dinner for someone else for a change, besides just myself.
Lightened-Up Eggplant Parm (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves:  4
1 eggplant
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 cup breadcrumbs
8 ounces ricotta
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cups spaghetti sauce
4 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced

Slice the eggplant into thin slices.  Salt the eggplant and place in a colander over a bowl.  Let the eggplant drain for about 1 hour (I did this before work so I placed it in the fridge for 8 hours and came out great!). 
When ready, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine egg and milk in a small bowl.  Place the breadcrumbs on a large plate.  Dip the eggplant into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumbs.  Place on a non-greased cookie sheet and repeat until all the eggplant has been coated thoroughly.  Bake for 12 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine ricotta, egg, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.  
Begin to make the eggplant parmesan.  In a large casserole dish, put down 1/2 cup of sauce.  Top with eggplant forming a single layer.  Spread one half of the ricotta mixture over it.  Top with 1/2 cup of sauce.  Add eggplant in a single layer.  Spread remaining ricotta mixture over it.  Top with 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese.  Add eggplant in final layer.  Top with remaining spaghetti sauce, and remaining mozzarella slices.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, until fully heated through.  Let rest for about 3-5 minutes before serving.

Until the next time my oven is on…

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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