HAPPY VALENTINES DAY
The Perfect Meal on a cold Winter Day!
Happy Valentines Day! Although, I'm not big on celebrating Valentines Day and I find the holiday a bit overrated, I do make an effort to do something nice for my husband, and vice versa. This is actually my first Valentines Day, married, so I thought of making something special, something that requires effort, something that says... I love you! What could be better than Eggplant Parmesan? So I made this dish on Feb 13, assuming we have a date tomorrow night (Feb 14), I'll keep my fingers crossed :-)
For my version of Eggplant Parmesan, I opted to bake the linguine along with the eggplant, rather than just serving it on the side. I wanted all those flavors to absorb into the linguine and I figured I'd try something different. In addition, I did not coat the eggplant with flour, I just used bread crumbs, this probably saved some calories.
Now for those of you who have been following my blog know that I'm not big on using too much oil/butter, I try to keep things as low fat as possible without compromising taste and texture. For my version of Eggplant Parmesan, I baked the eggplant, I did not fry it. By no means am I claiming that my version is super healthy, it does have a decent amount of fat, but compare this to the real thing and compare the fat, my version is much lower. Do not underestimate the power of baking... the results are still phenomenal, without all the extra fat and calories. There are lots of steps in this recipe... don't be intimidated... step by step pictures make everything easier :-)
Put my recipe to the test and see for yourself.
NUTRITION: Eggplant is a very good source of Fiber and Vitamin B1 (Thiamin). Cheese is an excellent source of Protein and Calcium. Tomato Sauce is a good source of Vitamin C. Lastly, I used Whole Grain Linguine which adds Protein and Fiber to this dish.
- Barilla Whole Grain Linguine - 3/4 lb. box
- Barilla Marinara Sauce - 24 oz. bottle
- Progresso Italian Style Bread Crumbs - 3/4 to 1 cup
- Eggs - 1 egg & 1 egg white
- Eggplant - 1 medium (1/4 inch rings)
- Onion - 1 big (chopped)
- Garlic - 3 cloves (chopped)
- Crushed Red Pepper - 1 tsp
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 3 tbsp.... 1 tbsp (sauce), 1 tbsp (saute eggplant), 1 tsp (grease tray), 1 tsp (grease baking glass tray), 1 tsp (boiling water) = 3 tbsp total!
- Parmesan Cheese - 3/4 cup (grated)
- Mozarella Cheese Part Skim - 3/4 cup (grated)
- Basil - 1/2 cup (chopped)
- salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
1. Set aside water to boil. Once boiled, keep on low simmer for a while.
2. Set aside the bread crumbs... you will need 3/4 to 1 cup.
3. Beat 1 egg and 1 egg white, set aside.
4. Grease an oven safe tray with 1 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or use Olive Oil spray. Set aside.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rings.
7. Season with salt and black pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes.
8. In the meantime, chop the garlic and onions. Set aside.
9. After 15 minutes, check on the eggplant... it should be slightly brown.
THE DIPPING PROCESS
10. Now start the dipping process...
11. Drench the eggplant in the egg mixture... BOTH SIDES.
12. Coat the eggplant with the bread crumbs... BOTH SIDES.
13. Add the eggplant to the greased tray. Repeat this 3-step process for the remaining eggplants.
14. Once done and the oven is preheated, place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes.
MAKING THE SAUCE
15. You can make Marinara Sauce from scratch... or I just used Barilla Marinara Sauce... it is not too fattening and there is no High Fructose Corn Syrup (a lot of other sauces contain HFCS).
16. Heat a pot on low-medium heat, dial #4, add 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add crushed red pepper. Once the pepper starts to sizzle....
17. Add the onions and garlic you chopped earlier. Season with salt. Combine.
18. After 5 minutes, the onions should be golden.
19. Now add the Marinara Sauce. Stir.
20. Cover and let this simmer for 10 minutes.
AFTER 10 MINUTES... turn off the gas... set the sauce aside.
21. Grate the Parmesan and Mozarella cheeses. Set aside.
22. Chop the basil... I wish I had more on hand. You can never have enough basil, so use generously. Set aside.
23. Back to the eggplant, flip over all the pieces and place the tray back in the oven for ANOTHER 10 MINUTES.
24. Once the eggplant is done... remove from the oven.
SAUTE THE EGGPLANT
25. Heat a pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, add the baked eggplant and saute lightly for a few minutes on each side, or until slightly crisp.
26. While the eggplant is cooking, salt the boiling water and add 1 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The water should be on dial #5.
27. Add the linguine to the boiling water. Cook for 8-10 minutes, should be slightly firmer than Al Dente.... this is because we will bake the pasta.
28. After lightly sauteing, your eggplant should be crisp on both sides.
29. Drain the pasta.
LAYER THE EGGPLANT PARMESAN - PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES
30. Grease a 7x11 baking tray with 1 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
31. Add the drained pasta to the greased baking tray.
32. Add a good amount of sauce to the pasta... this will keep the linguine moist.
33. Add the eggplant... 8 pieces.
34. Top with sauce.
35. Now add half the cheese.
36. Add the remaining eggplant pieces.
37. Top with the remaining sauce.
40. Cover with foil.
THE BAKING PROCESS
41. Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.