Healthy, Baked Eggplant Parmesan

20130625-140937.jpg

I think I made it all the way to adulthood with an intense dislike for eggplant. To me it was a bitter, slimy, vegetable that was typically served fried and greasy in some version of eggplant Parmesan. I’m not sure when my eggplant revelation came about, but eggplant is now one of my favorite summer vegetables. I love it grilled, roasted with garlic and especially baked in this wonderful healthy re-make of eggplant Parmesan.

This recipe makes the most of fresh, local eggplant, tomato and basil. We have local mozzarella thanks to Hillsborough Cheese Company, so only the Parmesan Reggiano, olive oil and salt were store-bought. We used some of our yummy Roasted Tomato Sauce, which is my favorite discovery from last summer (well, maybe it’s a tie with Mae Farm Bacon Onion Marmalade).

Think of this recipe as lasagna with eggplant replacing the noodles. This is no greasy, fried, chain restaurant dish–it is flavorful, nourishing and rich in antioxidants and fiber. And your house will smell A-MAZ-ING while it is baking. Tom commented several times that it is hard to believe this is a meatless dish. If you substitute vegan cheese, it would be a completely vegan dish. Like it’s lasagna cousin, this freezes and reheats well, making super tasty leftovers. Healthy, local and delicious. Win-win-win. Yum-yum-yum!

Healthy, Baked Eggplant Parmesan (makes 6 servings)

  • 3 medium eggplant (we used several baby eggplant and one medium)
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 quart Roasted Tomato Sauce (or 1 jar from the store)
  • 2 c. mozzarella cheese, grated (you can use part-skim to reduce the fat)
  • 1 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 c. loosely packed basil leaves, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Wash eggplant and slice into 1/4″ or so slices. Put slices on the baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
  4. Roast eggplant slices for about 12 minutes–until they are fork tender.
  5. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Add one layer of the eggplant. Top with 1/3 of the tomato sauce, a sprinkling of basil leaves, 1/3 of the mozzarella and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Repeat layers two more times, ending with cheese on top.
  6. Bake in oven for about 40 minutes, until hot and bubbly and golden brown on top.
  7. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Advertisements

Charred Pepper Barbecue Sauce and Crock Pot Pulled Pork

20130510-132056.jpg

Spicy, hot and a little bit sweet! Just the way I like it!

I love barbecue sauce, but I’m not all about the super sugary bottled sauce in the grocery store. Some of them are so over-flavored that you can’t taste what you’re putting the sauce on. And when I’m buying a most delicious Boston butt from Mae Farm, I want to taste the pork as much as the sauce! We loooooove our Mae Farm meats! So this summer I experimented with making and canning some summer goodness in the form of homemade barbecue sauce. We just broke open our first jar (how did it take us so long???) and it is really quite good! A little sweet, spicy hot and rich with allspice and cloves, this barbecue sauce has a deep, rich taste, but it allows the flavor of your food to come through.

Here is a super tip on peeling tomatoes. Freeze whole tomatoes the night before you make your sauce. Run the frozen tomatoes under warm water and the skins will slip off! Totally easier than blanching!

This recipe is adapted from my all-time favorite canning recipe book, Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton (order it HERE).

Charred Pepper Barbecue Sauce (makes about 4 pints)

  • 1 lb. fresh chili peppers (note: red colored peppers will make a more pleasing colored sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 lbs. ripe tomatoes
  • 1 lb. yellow onions, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups organic brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 organic garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill. Toss the peppers with olive oil. Place chili peppers on the hot grill and roast, turning often so that the skins are charred. This will take about 5-6 minutes, depending on the size of your peppers.
  2. Remove peppers from the grill and put in a paper bag or in a bowl. Close up the bag or cover the bol with plastic wrap. Wait 5 minutes or until peppers have cooled enough to handle. Wearing latex gloves or bare handed (be careful!), peel the outer skin off each pepper. Discard the skin and reserve the peppers in a bowl. If you don’t want your sauce to be spicy hot, discard the pepper seeds as well. Set peppers aside.
  3. Peel, core and chop the tomatoes and set aside.
  4. Combine the all ingredients in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 2 hours until the sauce is thickened.
  5. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
  6. Refrigerate sauce for up to 3 weeks or can using the hot water bath method. Ladle sauce into clean, hot pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Release any trapped air and wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel. Center clean lids on jars and screw on jar bands. Process in a boiling bath for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, remove canner lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals, then store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork (serves 6-8)

  • 1 pasture-raised, hormone free Boston butt pork roast
  • 1 pint Roasted Chili Barbecue Sauce
  1. Put the pork roast in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cover with sauce. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours.
  2. Remove roast from the slow cooker and place on a cutting board. Pull pork apart into shreds using two forks.
  3. Skim any fat off the sauce in the slow cooker. Return pork to the sauce, toss well.
  4. Serve the shredded pork on buns, in quesadillas, on nachos, on pizza or just by itself!
%d bloggers like this: