Tag Archives: eggplant

Meaty Meatless Eggplant Parmesan

21 Aug

Eggplants are an interesting vegetable.  Large and deep purple with a spongy flesh that is virtually inedible raw but becomes tender and meaty when cooked.  E’s uncle lives on a farm and grows a variety of vegetables for personal consumption.  Earlier this week he surprised us with two gorgeous eggplants from his garden, along with a handful of cherry tomatoes.

With two eggplants in hand, the first thing that came to mind was Eggplant Parmesan.  I’ve never made the dish before but I sifted through my cookbooks and found a couple of recipes: one was lengthy and involved salting the eggplant then allowing it to sit for 45 minutes.  The other was very straightforward: no salting, relatively few ingredients, and it was much healthier.  Can you guess which one I made?

As an aside, I did a bit of research just to be sure that I wasn’t sabotaging my dish by omitting the salting step.  Adding salt to the eggplant removes bitterness and was a step in traditional recipes because earlier strains of the vegetable were much more bitter than our current strains.  According to the wise Wikipedia, most modern varieties of eggplant do not need this treatment.  Phew.

The Eggplant Parmesan was super flavourful and, in the words of meat-eater E, was very satisfying despite being a vegetarian dish.  Pair this with a healthy Caesar Salad (more on that another day) and you have yourself a balanced meal.  As an added bonus, the leftovers were phenomenal the day after!

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan  (from Crazy Plates)

1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried basil
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds),
unpeeled and each sliced crosswise into 8 rounds
cooking spray
3 cups low-fat tomato sauce
(use one that you like– the tomato sauce dominates in flavour.  I used slightly less than the amount called for and there still seemed to be a bit too much sauce)
1 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley

  1. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, and basil.  Mix well.
  2. In another shallow bowl, lightly beat together egg whites and salt.  Working one at a time, dip eggplant slices into egg whites, then into crumb mixture.  Turn to coat both sides with crumbs. Place slices on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  3. Spray tops of slices lightly with cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Remove eggplant slices from the oven, turn them over, and spray again with cooking spray.  Return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes.
  4. To assemble casserole, spoon 1 cup tomato sauce over bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Top with 1/2 eggplant slices.  Spoon another 1 cup tomato sauce over eggplant, followed by 1/2 mozzarella.  Repeat layering with remaining eggplant slices, sauce, and mozzarella.  Sprinkle parsley over top.
  5. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 260 kcal, 6 g fat, 6.4 g fibre

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Don’t Judge A Coconut Milk By Its ‘Title’

29 Jul

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself motivation to cook many of the recipes that I’ve been collecting over the past year or two.  I have a fixation with seeking out healthy recipes but I collect far more than I cook, and so the pile grows…

The other night I tackled a recipe for a spicy vegetable curry that I clipped from the July 2010 issue of Chatelaine magazine.  Instead of purchasing a large bottle of Indian curry paste that would sit unused in my fridge, I decided to whip up my own version based on a little bit of research and the spices I had on hand.  I was pleasantly surprised– despite my makeshift curry paste, the dish turned out quite nicely.  Next time I think I will increase the number of eggplants (Japanese eggplants are one of my favourites– they have an amazing texture) and throw in some tofu for a little extra protein.

As a side note, while shopping for coconut milk I made an interesting discovery.  Despite being almost double the price, light coconut milk has always been my go-to since it’s a healthier alternative to the full-fat version.  But… lo and behold, this is not entirely the case!  Light will almost always be lowest in calories and in fat, but not necessarily by much.  For example, the regular version of brand #1 ($1.49 for a can) contained a whopping 120 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving while the light version of brand #1 ($2.49) contained only 40 calories and 3.5 grams of fat.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the label of brand #2 (which only came in regular) and noticed that it only contained 50 calories and 4 grams of fat in an identical serving size … and was the cheapest one of all at $1.29 per can.

The moral of the story?  You can’t judge a coconut milk (or any food item, for that matter) by its title.  Always read the Nutrition Facts Panel!

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetables with Spicy Coconut Curry
(from Chatelaine magazine, July 2010)

1/2 cup red lentils
500 g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
2 tbsp Indian curry paste, preferably biryani (or make your own, recipe below)
200 mL coconut milk
1/8 tsp salt
2 Japanese eggplants
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
lemon wedges*
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

  1. Combine lentils with 2.5 cups of water in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat slightly and boil uncovered, stirring frequently, for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water 1 inch deep and bring to a boil.  Add green beans and steam, covered, until tender-crisp, approximately 5 minutes. Drain beans and set aside.
  2. Mix curry paste with 1 tbsp water and add to simmering lentils.  Stir in coconut milk and salt.  Simmer, uncovered, until thickened, 7 to 9 minutes.
  3. While lentils simmer, slice eggplants into quarters lengthwise, then into 2-inch wedges. Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat.  Cook onion until softened, about 3 minutes. Add eggplant, skin-side up.  Cook until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add green beans and toss to combine.
  4. Divide eggplant mixture between 4 bowls and top with lentil mixture.  Garnish with lemon and cilantro.  Can be served with toasted naan or over top rice.

*I didn’t think omitting the lemon would be a big deal, but the lentil mixture really needed a bit of acidity. I didn’t have lemons or lemon juice on hand so I used a few teaspoons of white wine vinegar. It made a big difference!

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 250 kcal, 11 g fat, 8 g fibre, 310 mg sodium

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Homemade Indian Curry Paste  (Makes 2 tbsp)

1/2 tbsp each cumin and coriander
heaping 1/4 tsp each turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, paprika
pinch of salt
3 cloves of garlic, grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tbsp white vinegar

Mix spices in a small bowl.  Add garlic and grated ginger, mix well.  Add vinegar, mix well.