No-Sweatpants-Needed Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort food meals. However, there should be added emphasis on the comfort part, as all I want to do after eating eggplant parm is roll into some large sweatpants and lie down alone while I “digest”.

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Though a vegetable, eggplant parm can hardly be considered healthy once said vegetable has been breaded, fried and doused in cheese. I don’t know about you, but consuming grease and cheese do not mix well when forced to interact with other human beings directly after.

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While I love the traditional bready-cheesy-greasy version more than anyone, I wanted to create another take that would be more forgiving to my digestive system and those in my surroundings.

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Hence my No-Sweatpants-Needed Eggplant Parmesan. The eggplant is first baked (sans breadcrumbs) rather than fried. I lightened the dairy load by using skim milk in the sauce and part-skim mozzarella cheese. Fair warning, this is more like an eggplant parmesan casserole than the typical eggplant parm you see in red-sauce joints, but this lightened up version is better suited for this hot summer weather anyways. Your bathing suit and your social life will thank you.

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No-Sweatpants-Needed Eggplant Parmesan

serves 4

Ingredients:

2 lbs Italian eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds (Italian eggplant is smaller than regular eggplant)

1 tbsp olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 cup skim milk

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 cup homemade or jarred marinara sauce

1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup grated Pecorino-Romano

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place eggplant rounds in an even layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Flip and repeat on the other side. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip eggplant rounds and bake for 10-12 minutes more until tender and browned.

2. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Combine 1/4 cup milk, flour and garlic in a sauce pot over medium-high heat. Gradually whisk in remaining milk and 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3-5 minutes until pink sauce has thickened. Set aside.

3. Spread 1/4 cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Add a layer of cooked eggplant slices. Top with a layer of the pink marinara sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and top with more pink sauce. Dollop with remaining 1/4 cup marinara sauce. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes until cheese is slightly browned and bubbly.

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