Eggplant Parmigiana

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Fun fact: Eggplant is not a vegetable! Eggplant is actually considered to be a fruit, similar to its cousin in the nightshade family, the tomato. 

Cooking with eggplants can actually have many health benefits. Eggplants are full of different phytonutrients which can provide antioxidant benefits to our bodies by reducing the amount of free-radicals produced by our cells. 

One such phytonutrient found in eggplants is a  flavonoid called nasunin, which has been suggested in some studies to provide protection for the fat tissue within our brains. Eggplants are also high in fiber, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), copper, and many other nutrients. 

This was actually my first time ever eating or cooking with eggplant, but it will definitely not be my last. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and please feel free to send me your feedback or pictures after you try it!

Ingredients:
(Not all ingredients are pictured above)
 

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
    (I used and recommend Earth Balance Buttery Spread for the unsaturated fat profile)
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
    (+ more as desired for flavoring the tomato sauce)
  • About 8-10 fresh basil leaves
  • 9 medium tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Dash of salt, as desired
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese + 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, blended together into 1 small bowl

Directions: 

  1. Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F. Next, get a large baking sheet and cover it with parchment paper. Set the baking sheet aside for now.

  2. Begin slicing the eggplant (remove the stem and leaves) into about 1/4 inch thick slices. Place each slice on a paper towel as you proceed to cut the eggplant. You should have 10-12 slices by the time you are finished slicing. Let the paper towel absorb any extra moisture from the eggplant slices as you proceed to step 2.

  3. Get 2 small bowls. In one of the bowls, scramble the 2 eggs  together using a fork. In the other bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning. Make sure that you are near your baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.

  4. One at a time, dip each slice of eggplant first into the egg mixture, and coat both sides of the eggplant with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumb coated eggplant onto the baking sheet and continue this process until all of the slices have been coated.fullsizeoutput_943.jpeg
     
  5. Place the baking sheet into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Take the eggplant out when it has reached a golden color, and a crisp texture. While you wait for the eggplant to cook, proceed to step 6 so you can begin making your tomato sauce.

  6. Place 1 Tbsp of olive oil into a  large pot over a medium-high heat setting. Add the 9 quartered tomatoes and the garlic cloves to the pot, and cover it. After about 10 minutes, you will begin to notice that the tomatoes are beginning to break down. Uncover the pot, and stir the tomatoes.

  7. After stirring the tomatoes, start adding any seasonings that you prefer to the sauce. (I seasoned my sauce with another 2 Tbsp. of Italian seasoning, and a dash of salt, and about 4 chopped basil leaves.) After you add your seasonings, cover the pot again, and stir on occasion.fullsizeoutput_96b.jpeg
     
  8. Lower the heat on the sauce when you notice that the tomatoes have really started to break down nicely. Continue to stir the sauce on occasion, while keeping the cover on the pot in-between stirs until your eggplant is ready.**Hint: If you need to thicken your sauce, add a pinch or two of flour to the pot. **
  9. Once the eggplant has finished baking, carefully take the pan out of the oven. Turn off the heat for your tomato sauce, but be sure to keep the oven pre-heated at 400 degrees F. To prepare for the entree assembly, add the 2 shredded cheeses together in a small bowl and toss the cheeses together. Set this cheese mixture aside for now.

  10. Begin assembling the eggplant parmigiana by spreading about 1 cup of tomato onto the bottom of a large baking dish. (I used a 2.5 quart dish). Next, carefully spread the eggplant slices onto the bottom of the baking dish, arranged in a single layer so that most space has been filled. Sprinkle a pinch of the mozzarella / parmesan cheese mixture over each eggplant slice to complete the first layer.

  11. Repeat this pattern of sauce, eggplant, and cheese one more time. Use extra leftover sauce to fill in the spaces between the eggplant. Garnish the eggplant with torn pieces of the remaining 4 basil leaves, if desired. Bake the dish for another 20-25 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

  12. Carefully take the eggplant parmigiana out of the oven and let it cook for 5 minutes before serving. 

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ENJOY!!!

Nutrition Facts per serving: (Yields about 6 servings)

Calories: 299

Total Fat: 17g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g
Trans Fat: 0 g

Sodium: 291 mg
Potassium: 652 mg

Total Carbohydrate: 26 g
Dietary Fiber: 6 g
Sugars: 8 g

Protein: 13 g

Vitamin A: 37% DV
Vitamin C: 40% DV
Calcium: 25% DV
Iron: 12% DV