January 22, 2012

Baked eggplant parmagiana

I have a confession to make.

It rained on Friday.

That isn't the confession, per se, but it's crucial to the story. You see, I live in the San Joaquin Valley area of California, and rain is very infrequent here. Since I moved here five months ago, it's rained all of three or four times. It's good, definitely, but there are some downsides. For me, for example, who does not have a drivers license and who goes everywhere on bike or on foot, the rain can certainly put a damper on plans.

In Chicago, I was tough. Rain, snow ... nothing stopped me. I'd just throw on a few extra layers, grab my umbrella, and hit the road. But since bad weather is so infrequent here (and here's the confession), I like to revel in it, fully take advantage of an entire day off.

Friday morning, I turned on Netflix. My sisters have been raving about "Parks and Recreation," and we watched a couple of episodes when I was in Connecticut at Christmas, so I figured I'd keep watching. It's a pretty good show, and after a few episodes, I left the couch to grab some lunch - a piece of fish I'd marinated in lemon juice and Greektown seasoning and then cooked up on my George Foreman grill, plus some roasted broccoli. Munch, and keep watching. A few episodes later, grab a pear for a snack. And then after a few more episodes, I decided to be lazy about dinner and just heated up a Lean Cuisine, tossed it up with a big bowl of spinach, and retreated to the couch. After a while, I realized it was dark out, so I looked at my phone. It was almost midnight.

I almost feel a bit guilty for spending an entire rainy day on the couch. There's laundry to be washed, folded, put away. Dishes to be done. Blog posts to be written. Lesson plans I could have gotten a head start on.


It's interesting, because this used to be my life, with a few minor differences. Every day off was me fused to the couch. Instead of a Lean Cuisine frozen sesame chicken, it was enough Chinese takeout to feed a family of four. I'd watch movie after movie - sometimes streaming movies from Netflix that I owned, just so I didn't have to get off the couch to change the DVD - because that was too much movement! And there was absolutely no guilt, because this was the norm.

I woke up Saturday with the sun shining, birds chirping outside my window, and my body craving movement. I got dressed, put on my running shoes, and hit the path. 2.25 miles done, then hopped on the bike for about 7 more miles - I would have done more, but part of the path floods whenever it rains, so I turned around and headed to the grocery store to pick up a few things.

With all the rain, what I really wanted Friday night was some comfort food - somewhat fortunately, I didn't have many ingredients in the house (I usually shop on Fridays or Saturdays). So yesterday, I decided to make a healthier version of one of my favorite comfort foods: eggplant parmagiana.

It's hardly a surprise that I love eggplant - with my recipes for eggplant "bacon", eggplant ravioli, and eggplant gnocchi. The flavor is so delicious, and pairing it with sauce and cheese takes it to the next level.

1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
3 egg whites
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. basil
2 tsp. each parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
3 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 375ยบ. Toss together breadcrumbs and herbs. Dip eggplant first into egg whites, then breadcrumb mixture. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for another 10 minutes. In a 1-2 quart casserole dish, add a small amount of tomato sauce, then cover with a layer of eggplant rounds. Add some cheese, then another layer of eggplant. Add another layer of sauce. Continue until all eggplant is layered, top with sauce and any remaining cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.

Delicious! I assembled mine around noon but didn't cook it until later that night, so I had to bake it for about 20-25 minutes to heat it through, but oh, it was delicious.

For the cheese, I used my usual standby - a few pieces of string cheese torn apart. One of my favorite finds in California is the 99 Cent Only store - they sell a lot of name brand products, just in smaller sizes for 99 cents or less. I got a three pack of light string cheeses for 79 cents! And for the tomato sauce, I used this delightful find:

The "no sugar added" distinction sold me - why you need to add sugar to tomato sauce is beyond me. To tell the truth, I have been making my own tomato sauce since moving to California, but I recently ran out of my freezer supply, so I will have to make more soon.

Two servings at about 325 calories each using my ingredients - though you could easily make it three servings at about 215 calories and pair it with a salad.

What about you? How's the weather where you are? How do you like to spend bad weather days?


Caron said...

I love eggplant too. Sometimes I just sprinkle the slices with Cajun seasoning and bake. Then I use them for sandwiches or snacks. Yum. Yum.

Chubby McGee said...

Honestly, you still had a good day. You didn't go for the take-out food or munch on potato chips. You're allowed to have a day or two like that, you know? I understand how easily it is to slip back into old habits, but you've got this down and I know you wouldn't let that happen. You've come too far. And you know that, too. That's why you still ate well and still busted your hump on the next sunny day.

P.S. BRILLIANT idea on using string cheese on top of baked pasta!!! OMG! BRILLIANT! I never thought about that. Thanks for that tip and I'm most likely going to be making that lasagne as soon as we have some money again to do so. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of the weather here to be honest. It rains too much and isn't warm enough. Still, we've had a crazy mild winter this year so I guess I can't complain.

When I lived in Texas, I loved to have bad weather parties. We "partied" through every hurricane/tropical storm that hit while I lived in Houston, including Ike. This typically involved pitchers of hurricane and Scrabble games that devolved into only being able to use cuss words. If the weather wasn't actually bad, we'd head to the deserted bars downtown and celebrate finding parking and plenty of elbow room.

Kristen said...

I do sometimes love a snuggled on the couch bad weather day. And your eggplant looks phenomenal! I'll have to keep that one in my back pocket for when hubby is out of town (dratted man hates eggplant).

Tim said...

Aubergine is something I like but always forget about buying it. I guess I don't know enough recipes to cook stuff with it but I will have to try and remember to print your ones off and give them a go.

The weather in my city, Southampton is about 9C, slightly cloudy and dry. I live in the South of England so usually get the best weather. I think it's windy with snow everywhere else in the UK, which isnt fair because I want snow!!! :(

Jessica said...

Occasionally we need a down day. It is good for body and mind if it is a rare treat.

Jitterfish (WJW) said...

I've never tried eggplant parmegiana, I see it all the time but its just not a recipe people eat here (NZ). Perhaps I need to use your recipe and give it a go.

Ann said...

Mary - it sounds like you had a great, relaxing day. And that eggplant dish sounds delicious! :)

Anonymous said...

Mmm! I love eggplant parm so I'm definitely going to have to try this one.

It snowed here on Saturday so I sadly spent most of the day on the couch.

timothy said...

i tend to TRY and catch up on blogs (mine and my friends including yours! ) read, do my weekly shopping/laundry/cleaning, spend some extra time playing with divonna (my chihuahua aka as a princess in canine form!) go out with friends etc etc if i'm lucky i can play wow for an hour or watch a movie. the last few weeks i've been in purge mode. i got rid of over 1oo books (a HUGE deal for me) lots of old fat clothes, cds, shoot even dumped 50 fb "friends" . trying to simplify. today i've got 2 boxes of books to donate to goodwill, and a box of cds to trade in at fye.

Roxie Morrow said...

Holy Batman, this looks good!!! I LOVE eggplant as well, but don't make it nearly enough as I should.
Thanks for another inspiring recipe.


Anonymous said...

oh my god , yum!!! that looks awesome!!

check out my blog if you like


Shannon said...

I love to watch movies or read a book on rainy days - I love rainy days!

Thanks for sharing the recipe! I'll be trying it this week!

Jordan said...

When you posted about stuffed green peppers a few months ago, I thought, "Wow, what a great idea!" and went on a stuffed green pepper bender for a few weeks. Even though I'd never made them before.

So now I'm gonna try these!