Sometimes I just have a craving for heavy comfort food. You know what I’m talking about (especially you Italians out there)–I want something served atop a big mound o’ pasta, covered in cheese and tomato sauce, and possibly breadcrumbs as well.
However, I’d also like to not regret it immediately afterwards, which is what normally happens. I hate that post-giant meal feeling when you can barely make it to the couch, and you just want to lay there like a giant slug for three hours before you can even think about moving again.
So I thought I’d take a comfort food that I used to love and make it into something that I can enjoy (guilt-free) again. My highschool boyfriend was obsessed with chicken parmesan–he ordered it anytime we ate out and his mom would make it for him for every special occasion you can imagine. When I was in college (a few boyfriends later), I was introduced to the joy of eggplant parm–even better than chicken, in my opinion. Sadly, the dipping-in-breadcrumbs-frying-in-oil-and-then-drowning-in-mozzarella-cheese part kind of takes away from any nutritious value you might get from eating eggplant.
So here’s my take on a healthier version–whole wheat pasta, baking instead of frying, and only a sprinkle of parmesan cheese take this from greasy diner to heaven on a plate. And don’t worry–there’s still breadcrumbs.
Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
- 1 eggplant, washed and sliced into 1/2″ rounds
- 1 box angel hair whole-wheat pasta
- 1 14-0z can diced tomatoes
- 1 small can tomato paste
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 C flour
- 1/2 C breadcrumbs (seasoned, if you want–just be careful of that extra sodium)
- pinch of sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes
- 1/2 t basil and oregano
Pre-heat your oven to 425, line a baking sheet with foil and spray with a thin layer of canola oil. Put the baking sheet right into the oven to heat up.
Next, get your dippin’s ready. You’ll need a bowl of egg, one of flour, and one of the breadcrumbs.
I got a freak egg–a double yolker! Haven’t had one of those since we had to get our own eggs from the chickens in the yard.
Dip the eggplant in this order: flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Make sure you coat the whole thing with each component.
Lay the eggplant on your hot baking sheet, and put into the oven until beginning to brown (about 20 minutes) then flip ’em and finish for another 10 minutes. They should be soft on the inside, crispy and golden brown on the outside.
Meanwhile, make your pasta and tomato sauce. I have a quick and easy recipe for tomato sauce that I use all the time–just as easy as buying prepared sauce, but it tastes so much better. Combine a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, pinch of sugar, salt, a cup of hot water, and whatever spices you want–I usually use oregano and basil, and sometimes hot red pepper flakes.
This time I accidentally used waaay too many pepper flakes. Fine for me, but Fritz’s lips were turning numb. Sorry!
Simmer on the stove until thickened to the consistency you like. When the eggplant is ready, spoon some sauce over each round and sprinkle generously (but not too generously–we’re trying to be healthy, here) with parmesan cheese. But don’t be stingy, either.
Pop it back in the oven and broil until browned, about three minutes. Here’s what those last steps should look like:
Oh yeah. By now your husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends/children/in-laws/cats will be setting the table in excitement. Well, except for your cat, who will be winding around your feet, frantically meowing like he hasn’t been fed since 1846.
Or that just might be my cat.
Anyway, serve atop spaghetti, with a scoop of extra tomato sauce. And the best part? You can feel good about it afterwards!