Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Here’s one for any of you who might have a chocolate hangover from this weekend…  Lighter Eggplant Parmesan from the December 2008 issue of Everyday Food.  It’s super flavorful without any of the guilt, probably because this recipe ditches the breading and cuts down significantly on the amount of oil used.  (Eggplant slices are like little sponges!)

The recipe called for one large (2-pound) eggplant, but Sunflower Market only had eggplants that were around a pound apiece.  I just bought two.  My first objective was to slice the eggplants into 1/2-inch rounds.  I’ll admit that I used my kitchen ruler to mark the 1/2-inch points because I’m obsessed with detail that way.  (It might sound crazy, but the slices sure cooked evenly.)

Once I had my eggplant slices, I arranged them on two rimmed baking sheets and brushed them on both sides with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  (The recipe called for 1 tablespoon of olive oil, but I actually needed about 1 1/2 tablespoons to get through all the slices.)  With racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, I baked the eggplant slices at 450F for 25 minutes, turning the slices and rotating the baking sheets halfway through.

While the eggplant baked, I made the sauce for the dish.  In a medium saucepan off heat, I whisked together 1/4 cup of milk (the recipe called for skim; I used 1%), 3 tablespoons of flour, and 2 minced garlic cloves.  I gradually whisked in another 3/4 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of store-bought marinara sauce.  I brought the mixture to a boil, reduced it to a simmer, and cooked until it had thickened (about 2 – 3 minutes).

To assemble the dish, I spread 1/4 cup of regular marinara sauce (not the cooked pink sauce) in the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart baking dish.  (The recipe called for a 2-quart dish, but I only have a 1 1/2-quart dish and a 2 1/2-quart dish.)  I alternated layers of eggplant with the pink sauce.  (I ended up with 3 layers, but it depends on the size of your dish and the size of your eggplant slices.)  I dolloped the dish with another 1/4 cup of regular marinara sauce, topped it with 1/2 cup of grated part-skim mozzarella and 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan, and baked it at 450F on the upper rack until it was browned and bubbling (15 minutes).

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

This was *delicious*.  Look at that cheesy crust!  I honestly didn’t miss the breading and it was nice not to have the dish oozing oil on the plate.  As you might guess (since it’s mostly eggplant!), this is very eggplant-y…  If you don’t like eggplant to begin with, this one probably isn’t for you.  If you do, though, I can’t recommend it enough.  Mmmm.

(Eggplant fans, give Eggplant Rollatini a try as well!)

TIPS:  The online post of this recipe has two errors in the third step.  Each time it says “cup marinara sauce,” it should instead say “1/4 cup marinara sauce.”

Recipe link: Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

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