When I was a kid, other than maybe corn on the cob, lettuce, potatoes and the occasional broccoli/cauliflower combination, fresh veggies were not common in our house. Unfortunately canned vegetables were inexpensive and often found in my parent’s cupboards (and still are). I look back on it now, and although the vegetables were there, eating canned vegetables is almost as if you weren’t eating them at all. My parent’s (sorry Mom & Dad if you’re reading this, but its true) aren’t adventurous when it comes to eating or cooking. Which is totally fine, but there are definitely a lot more and better things to eat out in the world that are really healthy, and really tasty. Growing up we didn’t eat peppers, onions (green onions we did on occasion), didn’t really cook with garlic, didn’t eat zucchini, cucumbers, celery, eggplants, squash…the list could go on. As I’ve aged my tastebuds have certainly developed. I literally eat garlic and onion on nearly every dish (I should probably invest in breath mints). I eat peppers of all colors regularly (I even have a colorful Pepper Pico that Is absolutely delicious) and I typically buy mostly veggies for my fridge (and I eat them too) There are still tons of vegetables that I don’t regularly cook with; I buy potatoes but rarely eat them, I don’t like sweet potatoes all that much and I’ve never eaten or cooked squash before. But I’m changing all of that!
When I first started my journey to eating healthy and eliminating the icky things in my diet (processed foods, pop, artificial dyes/preservatives etc) I had to fill it up with other things and try new stuff! In comes the veggie train! Before I started my health kick, I had never tried Zucchini, eggplant or squash. But now! Zucchini and Eggplant are off that list! I tried a few times (unsuccessfully I might add) to make some zucchini chips. I even went out and bought a mandoline…alas they all came out burned. Maybe now that I have a oven thermometer…I should try again….
My next culinary feat was to give Eggplant a go. I bought an eggplant a few weeks back and then disaster struck and it sat in my fridge and didn’t get used so I had to toss it. But this time around I vowed to get an eggplant recipe on the books!
A little bit about Eggplants:
But whats so good about Eggplant? Besides being a pretty cool veggie (I mean come on people…its purple!) its pretty great for you. Filled with lots of fiber and vitamin B1, Eggplant is good for the body! But also your brain and your cardiovascular system. And hey…anything good for your cardiovascular system = bound to be good for your sex life! You want to make sure to keep your blood a pumping and your heart in good health. Did you know that eggplants are related to tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers?
One unpeeled eggplant contains 136 calories and only 1 gram of fat! Pretty good replacement for some fattier/higher calorie options!
So when I’m trying something new, especially vegetables. I have a strategy. Add cheese and add sauce. Its usually a good method to try things out that I’ve never tried before and also a good way to sneak in healthy food for kids (adult kids and little kids) who might not want to eat their veggies. I decided for my eggplant adventure, a perfect option was to shoot for an eggplant parmesan. Pretty traditional dish, fairly easy to make and not much can go wrong with italian food right? So I scrounged Pinterest until I found some easy eggplant parm recipes. I typically will find a few, kinda take bits and bobs from each one and sorta make up my own. Or I just use it as an idea and do it my own damn way. Its usually the my own damn way, way. This one is a combo of bits and bobs and do my own damn way kinda recipe.
When you think of Chicken Parmesan you think of a breaded chicken. I don’t see any reason why an eggplant parm should be any different! I also opted for a baked Eggplant Parm. Frying things in my apt = a bad idea. Plus I wanted something without the fattiness from frying.
Panko Bread crumbs
Mozzarella Cheese (I went with the fresh mozzarella ball, but shredded works just as well)
Tomato Sauce (I used my own homemade Heirloom Tomato sauce from scratch a few months ago)
If you remember, I don’t do measurements really…I just eyeball everything. I’m cooking for one so I go for taste!
Slice the eggplant in rounds. And dry them out a little by coating in salt and laying flat on paper towel. Preheat your oven to 400.
In a bowl, mix the parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, oregano, basil and garlic powder.
Coat the eggplant rounds in flour, then egg, then breadcrumb/parmesan mixture.
Spread out over a baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Place your tomato sauce and the mozzarella cheese on top and place back in the oven until the cheese is melted.
Plate up and enjoy. If you want you can always add some pasta as a side or some other roasted veggies tossed in italian seasonings and parmesan cheese. (cheese overload I know…but I love me some cheese!)
Here are some additional notes After I made this I realized there were a few things I could have done differently!
Make sure those babies are really dry! I let them sit for a minute or two but I should have really let them dry.
Use thinner slices. I do not have the best knife skills, but they were a tad soggy after baking, a thinner slice would have certainly helped.
To combat the sogginess as well a friend suggested that you do a light fry/sear BEFORE you put them in the oven.
Got any other tips or recipes using Eggplant???