Eggplant Parmesan – A Healthier Version

healthier-eggplant-parmesan

Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is a popular Italian dish in which slices of eggplant are typically dipped in egg, rolled in bread crumbs and fried in oil, before being combined with tomato sauce, spices, and cheeses, then baked. In this recipe for Healthier Eggplant Parmesan, slices of eggplant are dipped in milk, then rolled in a mixture of bread crumbs and wheat germ, combined with tomato sauce and cheeses, then baked. The wheat germ has a somewhat nutty taste which enhances the flavor of the bread crumbs.

Eggplant has a spongy texture which is absorbent and when fried eggplant soaks up a lot of oil. When eggplant slices are baked instead of fried, Eggplant Parmesan becomes lighter as well as lower in fat.

baked-eggplant-slicesIn many recipes, eggplant fulfils the role of being a complementary ingredient that balances the surrounding flavors of the more pronounced ingredients. Eggplant holds an esteemed place in the cuisines of Italy, Greece, Turkey and France.

Some Eggplant Facts

Eggplant is called “aubergine” in France and in British English. Eggplants are the edible fruit of the Nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, sweet potatoes and potatoes. It has long been prized for its deeply purple, glossy beauty and its unique taste and texture. Eggplants are available in markets year round but are best from August through October when they are “in season.” Eggplant is available in several colors and sizes in addition to the traditional purple variety. Leading growers of eggplant include Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China and Japan. 

Eggplant offers some good nutrition, too. One cup of eggplant contains only 35 calories and they have a low glycemic index. Phytonutrients, many of which have anti-oxidant activity, are found in eggplant. Also found in eggplant are dietary fiber, vitamin B-1, vitamin B-6, copper, manganese, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color vivid. Eggplant should be free of discoloration, scars and bruises, which usually indicate the flesh beneath has become damaged or possibly decayed.

To test for ripeness, gently press the skin with your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, if an indentation remains, it is not. Eggplants are very perishable and should be stored with care. Don’t cut eggplant until you’re ready to use it. Store in the refrigerator. Wash eggplant before using and cut off the ends. Eggplant can be eaten with or without the skin. If the skin is tough, as is sometimes the case with a large eggplant or one of the white variety, peel the skin before cutting the eggplant.

The Recipe for Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

Healthier Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 8
A lighter, healthier version of traditional Eggplant Parmesan which features baked eggplant slices instead of fried.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large eggplant
  2. 3/4 cup milk
  3. 2 cups fine bread crumbs or wheat germ or a combination of the two
  4. 1 teaspoon basil
  5. 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  6. 48 oz. bottled Spaghetti Sauce (or use your own Italian Tomato Sauce)
  7. 1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
  8. 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  9. 16 oz. Ricotta cheese (whole or part-skim milk)
  10. 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Oil two baking pans or use pan spray.
  2. Slice eggplant into 1/2" thick slices. Place the milk in a shallow bowl. Combine bread crumbs and wheat germ (if using), basil and Italian seasoning. Dip each eggplant slice into the milk, then roll in the crumbs. Spread the coated slices of eggplant on the baking pans and bake until tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Use pan spray or oil a 9" x 13" pan. Ladle some spaghetti or tomato sauce into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add a layer of eggplant slices and cover with more sauce. Sprinkle some mozzarella over the sauce, then repeat the with a layer of eggplant slices and tomato sauce.
  5. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese and egg. Spread mixture on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle on remaining mozzarella cheese and remaining Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.
Notes
  1. Fresh basil may be added to the topping mixture and/or the crumb mixture for additional flavor.
SILVER FOODIE http://www.silverfoodie.com/

 eggplant-parmesan-in-panI hope you enjoy this healthier version of Eggplant Parmesan! Make some soon for your family!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

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Easy Chicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Topping

chicken-breast-creamy-pesto-toppingChicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Topping

Chicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Topping is a simple, easy way to prepare chicken by combining prepared pesto with softened cream cheese, spreading it on the chicken, and baking at 425°F. for 25 minutes. If desired, Parmesan cheese may be added during the last 5 minutes of baking for an additional layer of flavor.

Pesto

I love pesto! Pesto is traditionally a mixture of basil leaves, garlic, salt, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. To prepare pesto a mortar and pestle were used to pound and grind it all together into a paste or sauce. The easiest way to make pesto today is using a food processor. Other nuts may be substituted for pine nuts, which are currently pretty expensive. Other leaves such as spinach or arugula may be substituted for basil as well.

Pesto is great just tossed with some hot pasta and some Parmesan cheese. I love to put pesto on half of my hamburger bun when eating a cheeseburger, too! Pesto is great spread on wraps or sandwich bread. It can be used as a dip with fresh vegetables or pita chips also. Pesto just adds a fresh flavor to anything with which it is combined!

One of my favorite recipes using pesto is Pesto & Cheese Stuffed Shells, featured in an older post.

The Recipe for Chicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Topping

Chicken Breasts with Creamy Pesto Topping
Serves 2
A simple, easy way to prepare chicken by spreading a mixture of cream cheese and pesto on the chicken, then baking until done.
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Cook Time
25 hr
Cook Time
25 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
  2. 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  3. 1/2 cup prepared pesto
  4. 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Mix softened cream cheese and pesto until well combined.
  3. Place chicken breasts into a greased 8" or 9" baking pan.
  4. Spread pesto-cream cheese mixture over the chicken breasts.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, until just done.
  6. If using Parmesan cheese, add to the chicken 5 minutes prior to end of cooking time.
SILVER FOODIE http://www.silverfoodie.com/

Additional Information

The rich topping on the chicken calls for a simply prepared vegetable such as steamed broccoli, asparagus or green beans to accompany this dish.

Tasty Tip: Cream cheese may be softened by unwrapping it, placing it into a microwave-safe container, and microwaving it for 10 seconds. Don’t forget to unwrap it first – I did that once, and my microwave looked like the Fourth of July with all the sparks that were flying! LOL! Seriously, be careful!

I grow basil on my deck every summer so I can make Pesto but it takes a lot of leaves so I often buy prepared Pesto. I’m not a spokesperson for Costco but their Pesto is very good!

On a personal note, Silver Foodie is one year old tomorrow! It’s been interesting as I’m not a techie but have watched many You Tube videos to get this website up and running!

Have a Happy Memorial Day Week-End!

Try Baked Chicken with Creamy Pesto Topping soon!

Remember to Savor the Flavor of Pesto!

Janet

*If you’d like to receive new Silver Foodie posts automatically, please enter your e-mail in the space under “Silver Foodie Updates,” then click on “Sign up.” Thank you!

For a list of link parties in which I participate weekly, please click on “Link Parties” on the menu header bar.

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