When I think “parmesan”, breaded chicken and buttery noodles come to mind. This recipe adds a little healthy but delicious twist to that. For as long as I can remember I have not been very fond of eggplant, but after trying this recipe I’m convinced I just didn’t know how to cook it. The only time I have really tried eggplant, it was baked in with pasta and I ended up just pushing it to the edge of my plate and throwing it out. When Kristen suggested that we try making this recipe, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to give eggplant another try.
Recipe Redux August Theme - Back to the Dinner Table
After the hustle and bustle of the holiday/vacation season, August is the time many families get ‘back to routine.’ Show us your favorite recipe to help families get ‘back to the dinner table.’ It might be a favorite family recipe from your childhood that you’ve ReDuxed; or maybe it’s your family’s current favorite. Let’s all gather back at the table!
This eggplant parmesan dish is a perfect meal for the whole family. With school and sports starting up again, it is hard to get everyone around the dinner table during the week. With this quick and healthy recipe you can be sure to have a nutritious meal to enjoy with the whole family. There are many different parts to this recipe, so involving the whole family in the preparation allows for a little extra family time before enjoying the meal around the table!
Eggplant and tomatoes, both featured in this dish, are both currently in their peak growing season (for a full listing of in-season Virginia produce, visit here). The eggplant is high in fiber and antioxidants, while utilizing farm-fresh tomatoes for the homemade sauce will be a lot lower in sodium than anything you would purchase from the store. I loved the eggplant parmesan paired over spaghetti squash noodles for a lighter, lower carbohydrate version of this dish, but don’t feel like you have to cut out carbs completely for this to be a healthy meal. Using whole grain spaghetti noodles is a perfect pairing and will add to the overall protein content of the meal!
Quick Tip! Right now is a great time to stock up on the heirloom tomatoes from a local farmers market to be processed into sauce and canned to be utilized later this fall! Local farmers often sell overly ripe or blemished tomatoes at a lower price. While these tomatoes may not be ideal to be cut up for salad, they’re perfect for sauce, so check out your local farmer’s market to take advantage and stocking up.
2 eggplants, cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, finely shredded
1 c. homemade bread crumbs (or panko)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp Italian seasoning
3 eggs, whisked
4lbs tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp corn starch
Salt and pepper, to taste
Spaghetti Squash: Preheat the oven to 350 F. If using spaghetti squash, cut in half, remove seeds and place flesh-side down in a pan with about 1/2-1 inch water. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour until soft.
Eggplant: Cut eggplant into rounds about 1/2 in. thick, lay flat on a paper towel, lightly sprinkle with salt and let sit for 15-20 minutes. This allows the eggplant to dry out some before breading them. To bread the eggplant: dip each slice first in whole wheat flour, followed by the egg mixture and then in the breadcrumbs. Lay flat on an oven-safe baking sheet and bake at 350 F for roughly 15-20 minutes until lightly browned, or lightly fry on the stove-top in a thin layer of olive oil. Set aside.
Tomato Sauce: Rinse, dry and chop up roughly 2lbs of heirloom tomatoes (roma works also) for the sauce. In a medium-sized pan on the stove-top, heat about 1 tbsp olive oil and add your onion and garlic. Stir with olive oil and allow to cook about 2-3 min until golden. Stir in your tomatoes and diced basil and allow all ingredients to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth, then transfer back to the stove top to simmer a few more minutes and thicken. If needed, adding about 1 tsp corn-starch will assist in helping the sauce to thicken (note: 4 cups of diced tomatoes will yield about 3 c. of sauce, you may also simplify this recipe by using store bought sauce!)
Assembly: Lay breaded eggplant flat on an oven-safe baking sheet and top with sauce, then a layer of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses as desired. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste. Bake on low broil in the oven for about 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve each slice on top of a bed of spaghetti squash noodles or whole grain pasta and enjoy!
Even if you've never been big on eggplant, don't be discouraged! This recipe is worth the try and makes for a fun and different dinner to relax around the table and enjoy with the whole family! For more recipe ideas to enjoy at the dinner table, check out additional Recipe Redux blogger creations below!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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