Sunday, February 28, 2010

Panko-Crusted Eggplant Parmesan

Wouldn't you agree that an eggplant is the most beautiful thing! I had to buy one just to let it sit so beautifully purple and smooth on my counter.... then in my fridge... then in my mind for a week or two wondering exactly what to do with it. I have truthfully never eaten eggplant- and in and of itself- I must say, beauty is mostly only skin deep. :) They are not the most amazing tasting creatures, but I thought this recipe (found at the Dr.'s office in Family Circle magazine) did a great job of disguise their blandness in crusty Parmesan and rich tomato sauce.

*Side Note about the sauce. The actual sauce in the picture is some that my sweet husband made. It was one of those busy nights for me and I had a friend over. He came home, saw noodles and spaghetti sauces on the counter and put "two and two together." :) I just had to smile when it was all over and he said, "What are those for when he saw my eggplant slices on a baking sheet. :) He was really so sweet to help. Anyway, I wish I could give you the recipe to his sauce, because it was fabulous, probably a lot better then this one. But if you are going to explore the possibilities of eggplant, definitely add this one to the list. :)

Panko-Crusted Eggplant Parmesan

3/4 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs (I used regular seasoned bread crumbs.)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 egg whites
1 large eggplant, about 1 1/2 pounds, cut into 1/2-inch slices (about 16 slices)

Sauce and Pasta
4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 pound angel hair pasta, cooked following package directions

1. Eggplant: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a large rack on a baking sheet and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a pie plate, mix together panko, Parmesan cheese, oregano, salt and pepper. In a second pie plate, lightly whisk egg whites.
3. Dip each slice of eggplant into egg whites and then into panko mixture, coating both sides. Place eggplant on prepared baking rack. Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes, until browned and tender. (My oven cooks pretty hot, but I had to take them out early because they were burning- this was a little long for me.)
4. Sauce: While eggplant is baking, make sauce. Coat a medium-size nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray and place over medium heat. Cook garlic until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and red pepper flakes. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Tear basil into bite-size pieces and stir in.
5. Overlap eggplant slices slightly on the baking sheet, making four piles. Spoon sauce evenly over each portion (reserve a quarter of it for serving) and evenly sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
6. Serve eggplant with cooked pasta and reserved sauce.

Per Serving 416 calories; 6 g fat (3 g sat.); 21 g protein; 72 g carbohydrate; 10 g fiber; 856 mg sodium; 12 mg cholesterol

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