By Cheryl Forberg, RD
This summer was really different in our vegetable garden. Though we moved less than 2 hours from our last farm, the weather is completely different here. There was hardly a day this summer when the temperature wasn’t in the 90’s or 100’s. There was no rain and too many gophers to count. As it turns out, we had absolutely no lettuce or herbs – they all burned in the sun.
The gophers also “took care” of our cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers and Chinese long beans. But we had a lot of peppers, tomatoes and eggplants. A lot. They all belong to the nightshade family of vegetables and fruits so I’ll have to do some research before next year to understand why they all fared so well and everything else died. The good news is that I became a master at preparing eggplants and tomatoes every which way.
Eggplant Parmesan became a favorite at our house this year and I suspect we now have enough in the freezer to take us through the winter too. Hope you like this version. It’s very forgiving because you can use different types of pasta or pizza sauces instead of marinara. And you can add lots of different vegetables or cheeses as well.
While traditional recipes often bread and fry the eggplant first, I find it easier to broil or grill it - unbreaded. This recipe reheats well. I like to make a double batch and stick half of it in the freezer for a scrumptious last-minute meal. Sometimes I’ll add an extra layer of sautéed spinach or mushrooms – or add cooked Italian sausage to the marinara sauce (or all of the above!)
Makes 8 servings
2 eggplants (about 2 pounds), ends trimmed, halved lengthwise and cut lengthwise into ½ inch slices
Melissa’s Italian Seasoning Grinders
4 cups (1 quart) homemade (or store-bought) marinara sauce
1 15 oz. carton fat free (or low fat or full fat) ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
½ cup Melissa’s Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (or Basil Pesto)
6 ounces shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan (or Romano) cheese
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to broil.
Place sliced eggplant on baking sheets. Lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasonings. Broil for approximately 6 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside to cool.
Reduce heat in oven to 400°F.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs and sun-dried tomato pesto. Stir well and set aside.
Dependent on the size of your eggplants, there could be 2 or 3 layers in your pan.
Pour one cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch pan.
Cover sauce with cooked eggplant slices.
Spread half (or 1/3) of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant. Sprinkle with half (or 1/3) of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat. Sprinkle last layer with Parmesan cheese.
Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Nutritional Analysis for one serving:
Total fat 13 g
Sat fat 2 g
Trans fat 0 g
Cholesterol 80 mg
Sodium 640 mg
Total Carbohydrate 21g
Fiber 6 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 18 g
Vit a 20% RDA
Vit C 25% RDA
Calcium 35% RDA
Iron 8% RDA