It’s early morning and Monique is tending to the garden, picking fruits of our labor, and finding it difficult to make room in the baskets for the bounty of fresh ingredients which bless us this time of year. Strolling down the mulch path and toward the front garden, she checks into the eggplant vegetation which has been chugging along in the raised bed, and now is showing signs of profit. She found and picked two large perfect eggplants, our first in what should be several months of fruiting still ahead.
As Monique and her pickings arrived in our kitchen my first thoughts were “I know what I am going to do with this wonderful eggplant!” The garden has provided for so much treasure this spring and summer season, we are already setting our sights on our fall crops to be planted soon.
I posted another version of this recipe last year during the Lenten season because it is a no meat dish. Today’s version is a low fat but high in flavor recipe, we’ve eliminated most of the olive oil and instead of pan sautéing the breaded eggplant we are broiling them until golden brown. Resulting in a just as tasty yet healthier version of the classic preparation! If you want to take away even more calories from this dish you can use egg substitute for whole eggs, and also replace the whole mozzarella with part-skim options.
The eggplant patch, a few angles from the garden!
Taking a peek under the plant.
|1 ½||Cups||Cracker crumbs|
|1||Tbsp||Cajun spice blend|
|2||large||Eggplant, cut into ¼-inch slices|
|4||Cups||Fire roasted tomato sauce, divided|
|2||Cups||Mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided|
|1||Cup||Parmesan cheese, divided|
|Olive Oil Cooking spray|
|1.||Preheat the oven to 400° F. Coat a 9×13 pan with cooking spray. Coat 2 sheet pans with the cooking spray.|
|2.||Arrange the sliced eggplant into a single layer on the prepared sheet pans and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the eggplant slices are soft.|
|3.||In the meantime, combine the beaten eggs and milk in a medium bowl to create an egg wash. In another medium bowl combine the breadcrumbs and cracker crumbs with the Italian seasoning and Cajun spice blend.|
|4.||Using two pair of tongs (one for the egg wash and one for the breadcrumbs) dip the eggplant slices one at time into the egg wash and then into the breadcrumb mixture to evenly coat on all sides. Return each breaded eggplant slice to the sheet pans. Once a sheet pan is full then lightly coat each breaded slice with olive oil spray.|
|5.||Preheat the broiler and broil the breaded eggplant slices 4 inches from the flame for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Be sure to check every minute or so and turn the pan if necessary to evenly brown the slices and not to burn others.|
|6.||Preheat oven to 350°F.|
|7.||Using a spoon and spread 1 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 pan. Top the sauce with half of the breaded and broiled eggplant slices into one layer. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Spoon and spread 1 ½ cups of the tomato sauce. Top with the remaining eggplant slices in one even layer. Spoon and spread the remaining tomato sauce and then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.|
|8.||Bake in the oven uncovered for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sides are bubbling. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into eight even portions.|
Dinner is served!