Photo Credit creativecommons.org
I never used to buy eggplants because I didn’t know what to do them. Then I came across this recipe, and that changed in a hurry! I realized how much I love them and just how versatile they are. I love pan frying them or throwing them in stir fries, lasagna, casseroles and pasta sauce. They absorb sauce well and take on all the delicious flavors and are a great vehicle for cheese! :) Traditionally eggplants are used in moussaka and baba ghanoush, two dishes I also love.
Some recipes call for you to salt the eggplant and let it sit for an hour (!!) to draw out bitter juices before cooking it. This is an extra step, I never do because 1. no one needs more salt in their diet and 2. it’s a pain in the butt, who has time for that?! Also, newer varieties of eggplant are less bitter than they used to be and if you buy smaller eggplants they likely won’t be bitter at all. I have never noticed a bitter taste either way, so don’t waste your time!
I always challenge people to try out new vegetables. I hear a lot of parents say “my kids don’t like vegetables” … once I do a little digging, I found out that they are being offered plain steamed broccoli or raw veggie sticks! These are great options, but won’t peak any child’s interest (unless you’re lucky!). So, I love to have recipes like this one (or this one) on hand to show parents that if you put a little effort into it kids will love vegetables just as much as me (…well that might be a stretch, but you get the idea).
Be creative, have fun in the kitchen and stop focusing all your time and effort on that meat dish. Spice up those veggies to make them the star of your meal, your heart (and your waist) will be very appreciative!
- 1 large eggplant (I used a longer skinnier one, but fatter one work too)
- 1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 large egg whites)
- 5 wasa or ryvita crispbreads; ground to a breadcrumb-like consistency in the blender (or crushed in a bag with a rolling pin), crush more as needed
- 1 cup canned tomato sauce w/ Italian flavoring
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (as you can see I just used whatever cheese I had)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- Italian seasonings (basil, oregano, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice ends off of eggplant, and cut it lengthwise into 1/2-inch strips. Use a paper towel to blot eggplant slices on both sides (to remove excess moisture). Grease a large baking pan. Season crumbs with garlic powder, salt, pepper and additional Italian seasonings to taste. Coat eggplant slices on both sides — first with egg whites, and then with the seasoned crumbs.
- Place slices flat on the baking pan, and cook in the oven for 30 minutes. Then, flip slices over and bake until browned on both sides (about 10 minutes longer). Remove pan from oven, but leave oven on.
- Spread 1/4 cup of sauce over the bottom of an 8″ X 8″ baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Arrange half of the baked eggplant slices evenly over the sauce. Continue to layer ingredients evenly in this order: sauce (1/4 cup), mozzarella and parm (half of each), sauce (1/4 cup), eggplant (remaining slices), sauce (1/4 cup), and cheeses (remaining amounts). Cover dish with foil and return to the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until heated throughout. Allow to cool slightly, and then cut into quarters.
**note: using the crisp breads is an easy way to make high fiber, tasty breadcrumbs, but traditional bread crumbs can be used instead