Excellent Eggplant Parmesan

Posted: February 17, 2011 in Recipes
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Not pretty but, oh, so delicious

I have recently switched to that of, largely, a vegetable based diet and, as a result, I have had to search out healthy alternatives for my usual steak dinners.  Fortunately for me, I have learned that eggplant is naturally low in calories, making them an excellent choice for anyone looking to lose weight or just find those convenient substitutes for meat. One cup of cooked eggplant contains just 28 calories and 0.2 grams of fat. Eggplant is also a good source of dietary fiber, with 2.5 grams per serving. Fiber helps to regulate blood sugar and keeps cholesterol levels low. In addition, eggplant contains a host of potent antioxidants. A University of California at Berkeley study, released in the August 7, 2000 issue of Toxicology, found that an antioxidant called nasunin, found in eggplant skin, protects cells from free radical damage. Another antioxidant, chlorogenic acid, is believed to have anti-cancer properties.  Right on!

So bearing this all in mind I decided to tackle something I have never tried before, or thought would even be within my meager culinary capabilities for that matter, a simple, yet excellent Eggplant Parmesan.  However, I have adapted my recipe a little bit from the more traditional approach in order to better cater to my own taste as well as my unique dietary needs.

Grocery list:

  • 1 large eggplant (thinly sliced)
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 cup Japanese panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 1 (16 ounce) package light halloumi cheese (shredded and divided)
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • salt/pepper.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. “Sweat” the slices of eggplant by lightly salting them and setting them aside for approximately 30 seconds until beads of “sweat” begin to appear on the surface.  This enhances the tenderness and flavor of the eggplant as well as removing any bitterness.  This process also reduces water content, making the eggplant less permeable to absorbing cooking oil should you want to add it to a stir-fry or something.  Pat dry once finished.
  3. Combine the beaten eggs with the cumin, ½ tsp dried basil, salt and pepper.
  4. Dip the eggplant slices into the egg mixture and then directly into the Italian and panko bread crumbs until well coated.
  5. Bake the breaded eggplant slices on a baking sheet in your preheated oven for approximately 5 minutes a side.
  6. Meanwhile, in a 9×13 inch baking dish spread just enough spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom.
  7. Place a layer of eggplant into the sauce. Sprinkle moderately with the halloumi and Parmesan cheeses as well as a thin layer of spinach. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses on top. Sprinkle with the remaining dried basil.
  8. Bake in your preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
  9. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Buon appetito

Now, perhaps I should also explain some of the variations I have made to this recipe.

1.       There is typically no cumin added to the egg wash, but I just happen to like cumin and I somehow manage to add it to most of my recipes in some fashion or other.  Cumin aids in digestion, insomnia, nausea, as well as help relieve symptoms of the common cold due to its antiseptic properties.

2.      Traditionally, eggplant parmesan uses mozzarella cheese where I prefer the lighter Mediterranean halloumi cheese, originally hailing from the Island of Cyprus.  Besides being a great conversation piece, one ounce of light halloumi cheese contains about 8.1g of protein, 4.5g total fat, and approximately 330 mg of sodium (14 percent of the daily value based on a 2,000 calorie diet), while containing only about 68 calories.

3.      I also like to add a layer of spinach, well, because spinach is good for you…or so Popeye has led me to believe.  I like the texture, the taste, as well as having that little added punch of protein.  You may wish to leave this out altogether, but I recommend you give it a try.

4.     Lastly, I like to add Japanese panko crumbs to my breading mixture as I like the added crunch they provide over the seasoned Italian bread crumbs.

Happy eating, and please let me know how it turns out.

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Comments
  1. I have a hard time with eggplant…Sometimes I like it, sometimes not. Depends on how mushy it gets because with me, it’s a texture thing. This looks super, though. Wish I could find haloumi out here in the boonies…

  2. So, I have just been catching up on your main page here…WOW. You have been up to some serious shit lately. Good for you! No wonder your other blogs have been quiet so long. Sounds like you have found something you’re very passionate about and you’re really going for it, and I think that’s great. You impress me with your discipline, man.

    • Discipline-schmitziline, I’m the same idiot…I just look better in cycling shorts. But thank you, and I am very passionate about it and happy to be writing again. I’ve been an admirer of your own site for years and have tried many of your recipes, so thank you for those. They were a big source of inspiration when I was learning to cook.

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