Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Light Italian Fare

One of my favorite foods is eggplant parmigiana. My mom makes it the best, always using fresh eggplant picked from our garden. I’m really looking forward to this summer because my dad is a great gardener and always supplies me with wonderful vegetables to cook. In the mean time, though, I’m having to use over priced, not as fresh produce from the food store… The eggplant did look decent this week, though, so I picked up a few to make a healthier, oven fried version of eggplant parmigian. I always serve my eggplant with pasta, and I found a spinach pasta at Trader Joes that I thought would go nicely.

Keeping with the lightened up, I chose to make a Caesar salad with homemade dressing. I found Alton Brown’s recipe for guiltless Caesar dressing, and it sounded wonderful. The recipe can be found here.

Enjoy this light, classic Italian dinner.

Eggplant Parmigiana, Pasta Marinara, Caesar Salad

Eggplant Parmigiana:
2 eggplant, sliced, salted and pressed for 30 minutes
(peeling skin is optional, I like to leave strips of skin)
1 cup flour
1 egg
½ milk
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 cup panko
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Garlic salt and pepper
½ cup part skim mozzarella
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Marinara (I use homemade, kept jarred in the fridge)
Pasta, any variety
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place a drying rack on a sheet pain, spray with nonstick spray.
Lay out 3 dishes, mix flour with garlic salt and pepper in one, egg with milk in another, and bread crumbs in the last. Dredge the eggplant, then dip in the eggs, then dip in the breadcrumbs to coat. Lay on the rack. Once all of the eggplant is done, bake it for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Cook the pasta, according to directions.
Heat the sauce. Ladle ¼ of it into a casserole dish.
Remove the eggplant, turn the broiler on.
Arrange the eggplant in layers with a little sauce and cheese in between each. Top with the remaining cheese.
Broil for 3 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.
Serve with pasta tossed in the remaining sauce. Serve with crushed red pepper flakes and oregano.

Caesar Salad:
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
2 tomatoes, wedged (not traditional, but I love tomatoes)
¼ cup croutons
¼ cup dressing (below)
Parmesan cheese
Toss all ingredients in a large bowl and serve!

2 ounces cubed Parmesan
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
11/2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
11/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 cup silken soft tofu
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Starting on the lowest speed, chop the cheese cubes in the blender jar until it settles into the bottom of the jar, gradually increasing the speed. Add the garlic down the chute and chop until minced. Next, add the mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and tofu to the blender and blend until smooth. While the blender is running, drizzle olive oil down the middle of the vortex that has formed. Add more or less of the olive oil and blend until it reaches salad dressing consistency.

*Note: Salting and pressing eggplant helps draw out some of the moisture, and crisp it much easier. This step isn’t completely necessary if you’re crunched for time, but it’s highly recommended. It can be salted and pressed for hours.

1 comment:

Katie said...

That eggplant parmesean looks AMAZING! My husband doesn't like eggplant, but I BET I can get him to eat THIS! I'm starring it! Thanks!