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Eggplant Comfort

February 2, 2010

I cannot describe the way my thighs feel today, mostly because I still can’t feel them! They are actually so sore they are numb, unless I make any fast movements or try to bend down to pick something up. I never realized that there are some leg muscles I never work out, even when I run, but Body Pump yesterday brought those muscles into a new light. Quads, I will never forget you again!

I was so sore that at the gym I could only jog for 1 mile (15 minutes) before stretching for a half an hour. It felt sooooo good, but my legs are still crying for the comfort of a hot shower. I am a little disappointed with myself  that I opted for a class I had never taken over working on my running. I’m going to see how I do for  the next few days, but if I am still having difficulty running I will hold off on more Body Pump sessions until I make the 3 mile mark! I do want to go back again though, it was obviously a great workout. 🙂

With the cold weather in Boston and my body aching for a giant heat wrap, I wanted to make a dinner full of comfort. And, if you hadn’t noticed, every single meal last week was chicken, and I’m sick of it! So hearty and vegetarian…my mind immediately went to eggplant!

Eggplant and I have a testy relationship. I love how it tastes in every dish I have ever had with it (baba ganoush! roasted veggies! caponata!) but when it comes to cooking, my dear purple friend becomes my worst nightmare. I wish I had this blog the week between Christmas and New Years, when I was home by myself for a few days and decided to whip up an aubergine treat (yay for British words!). I personally had never cooked eggplant before, and for some reason ignored what my Mom told me about them being sponges. I tried to stir fry what I had, it kept soaking up all the oil, and when I thought it was cooked it still tasted like rubber (actually, when cooked incorrectly it also tastes like a sponge!). I threw it away.

Oh Sophie, why do you crave things you are not good at making? And try them anyway!? And so began my yumventure in Eggplant Parm. Throughout the day I read a number of recipes to make the dish “healthier” (aka minus breading, frying, and obscene amounts of cheese) and I think I came up with a fairly decent “Light Aubergine Parmesan” recipe. Plus, its gluten free!

Light Aubergine Parmesan

1 eggplant, sliced about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch

1 can diced tomatoes and 1 small can tomato paste (or jar of marinara sauce)

1 package part-skim mozzarella

Dried or fresh basil

Salt and Pepper

Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 400*

Take the sliced eggplant, lay it out on a platter, sprinkle it with salt, and leave it for an hour. The salt is supposed to draw out a lot of the eggplant’s bitterness (and it did!)

In a saucepan, pour in the diced tomatoes and tomato paste, plus some salt, pepper, and basil. Heat through. Once heated, use a hand blender and blend up the tomato pieces into your own homemade marinara! (I avoid store-bough marinara because a lot of it has a ton of sugar and high fructose corn syrup..I kid you not!)

Rinse the salt off of the eggplant. In a grill pan, spray some cooking spray and grill up the eggplant. From my experience above I know that uncooked eggplant is not tasty, so you want to make sure they are nice and cooked, but not falling apart. Put them on a plate and sprinkle some salt and pepper.

Take a dish (I used a pie dish, but something like an 8×8 pan would work too!) and start layering your ingredients: first marinara, then eggplants (slightly overlapping and covering the bottom of the pan), then a light coating of mozzarella and start over again! I like the mozzarella because it melts well, so you don’t need to use so much. Keep layering until your last later is the rest of your cheese. Stick in the oven for 25 minutes, then turn on the broiler and leave for another 5 minutes, or until the cheese on top is golden brown.

Serve in slices with veggies! I thought the broccoli would look pretty with the red and golden colors 🙂

Mmmm….the gooey goodness!

This dish turned out great! It ended up being very light due to the lack of fat and breadcrumbs, but also meaty, hearty, and warm. I only used about 3/4 of a package of the part-skim mozzarella, and no butter, so in all not too bad for you! I thought Z might not like it because of its “healthfulness” but he thought it was delish! So much so he did one of his favorite things to it:

Made it in to a sandwich!! Oh boys…just like Joey from Friends 🙂 It looked really yummy though, and was still on healthy Alvarado Street sprouted wheat bread. Even though I avoid gluten, this stuff hardly upsets my stomach!

[Meal costs: Eggplant: $1.68, Diced Tomatoes: $1, Tomato paste: $.50, Mozzarella cheese: $2.50, Broccoli: $1. Total cost: $6.68 for 2 people]

After last nights mini-meltdown I was happy to have a successful and delicious meal. Z’s after meal yumventure, though, was not so successful, or delicious!

Since Z has been working out he likes to get some protein at dinner, but lucky for me he didn’t complain about tonight’s veggie option 🙂 We had a random Hemp Shake mix sitting in our cupboard.

We didn’t have any juice or milk, so he mixed it with water. I think this was the downfall of the hemp shake trail. It looked…disgusting.

And it smelt like a swamp. Being a food blogger, much to my chagrin I tried some. It made me want to cry…ewwwwwwwwww! Z said it tasted like a stoner threw up. I can imagine the resemblance. I will have to work on finding Z a good protein shake that isn’t full of sugar and weird chemicals. At least we got one option out of the way!

I hope everyone has a good night. Off to give my legs some r & r and hope for a good running day tomorrow.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2010 12:26 am

    Haha, sometimes, bloggers come up with amazing stuff, but sometimes…it’s just a bandwagon. I’m not a huge fan of protein shakes either!

    The eggplant dish looks amazing though! All that gooey cheeeeese!

  2. February 3, 2010 4:39 pm

    Eggplant is probably one of my favorite foods, but your’e right, it can be so tricky to cook! For me, it just took lots of trial and error. Sometimes I’ll just microwave-steam it a bit before putting it in a skillet so that it doesn’t just sit there soaking up oil while not cooking very fast.

    Eggplant parm = one of the best dishes EVERRRR!

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