Tag Archives: marinara sauce

Skinny Eggplant Parmigiana!

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I know, you’re probably thinking that just because Eggplant Parmigiana is a vegetarian dish that it would be low-cal! Actually, that’s not the case when it’s made in the traditional way. Usually, the eggplant slices are breaded and then fried in oil to crisp them up before layering them with the tomato sauce and cheese. But in this recipe, that frying step is eliminated…thus cutting out lots of fat!

Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
Serves 6
About 200 calories per serving

2 large eggs, whisked with about 2 T of water
1 1/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan type cheese (I used Trader Joe’s Asiago), plus 2 T.
Some dried spices like Oregano and Basil
Some salt and pepper to taste
2 large eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 1/2 cups shredded lite mozzarella cheese  
About 3 to 4 cups marinara sauce (I used the one I made here)

1.  Sprinkle some salt on both sides of the eggplant slices and let them sit for awhile until they release some of their water.  Dab off the water.

2.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

3.  Mix together the breadcrumbs, 3/4 cup of the parmesan cheese, and spices in a bowl.

4.  Dip each eggplant round into the egg mixture and then coat it with the breadcrumb mixture and place them on a cookie sheet that has been coated with cooking spray.

5.  Place the eggplant slices in the oven for about 25 minutes (or until the eggplants are slightly tender).

6.  Turn the broiler on and brown the eggplant slices on both sides, being careful not to burn them.  You want them to be a little crispy.

7.  When the eggplant slices are browned, remove them from the oven.  Turn the heat to 400 degrees.

8.  Coat the bottom of a baking dish with some marinara sauce.

9.  Place half the eggplant rounds in a single layer on top of the sauce.

10.  Sprinkle half the mozzarella cheese over the eggplant.

11.  Repeat with more sauce, eggplant and finish with the cheese.  Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on the top.

12.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.  Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

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A few years ago, while visiting Tuscany and Umbria, I had a simple Italian pasta dish featuring Ragu al Cinghiale (wild boar). I remember it being so delicious and very similar to the ragu my mom makes. Pasta with ragu is one of my comfort foods and when the weather begins to chill, it calls to me! In Tuscany and other areas nearby, cooking with wild game is very popuar. There are lots of hunters in these parts, and their delicasies reflect the game that they catch. But I never thought that I, not a hunter, could ever cook with these meats. So you can imagine my surprise when I walked into a nearby organic market, Sprouts, and found ground wild boar meat in the meat department! I immediately picked it up and brought it home to try my luck at making the delicious ragu that I had tasted in Tuscany. But so many questions arose in my head, mostly those  wondering if I had to treat the meat in some way to remove the gaminess. After doing some research online, I decided that I would just go for it and treat it like any other ground meat I’ve used in the past when I’ve made ragu. I’m glad I followed my instincts, because it came out perfectly!

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Ragu al Cinghiale (Wild Boar Ragu)

1 lb. ground wild boar meat
2 to 2 1/2 cups of Marinara Sauce (here’s my homemade recipe)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 stalks finely chopped celery
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms (I found some online here) softened in hot water (save the liquid)
1 Porcini mushroom bouillon cube
1/4 cup red wine
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

Saute the onions and celery in the olive oil until they are starting to brown.  (don’t add too much oil, only enough to coat the bottom of the pan).

Add the ground wild boar meat and brown it thoroughly all the while breaking up the larger chunks.

Add the red wine and cook for about 1 minute.

Add the marinara sauce and chopped, softened porcini mushrooms.  Stir and combine well.  Add the bouillon cube and some salt and pepper.

Reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer and cook for a couple of hours, making sure that the sauce doesn’t burn.  If needed, add a little of the porcini soaking water to keep it moist.

Serve with your favorite pasta (I like it with egg fettucine).  If you don’t use all the sauce and you want to keep it for future uses, it freezes perfectly.

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Dried porcini mushrooms

Dried porcini mushrooms

Porcini mushroom bouillon cubes

Porcini mushroom bouillon cubes

Pizza? Parmigiana? What to Call It….

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I have created a similar version to this and called it Eggplant Parmigiana countless times.  Breaded eggplant, marinara sauce and cheese baked in the oven until the cheese melts and becomes a bit golden – that was the perfect parmigiana!  But this time, I added some toppings…and so, it was transformed into a pizza!  No toppings = parmigiana; toppings = pizza!

Eggplant Pizza

1 eggplant, sliced into rings

1 to 2 beaten eggs, with a bit of salt and pepper added

Breadcrumbs

Marinara Sauce (I used my “Ugly” tomato sauce)

Shredded Cheese, like mozzarella

Pizza toppings:  prosciutto, mushrooms, peppers, salami, whatever you like!

Take the eggplant slices and coat them first in the beaten egg, and then lightly in the breadcrumbs.  Shake off any excess breadcrumbs.

In a hot pan with sufficient olive oil to coat the bottom, brown the eggplant slices so that they are golden.  Once each slice has browned, blot them on some paper towels to remove any excess oil.

Place the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet.  Cover each slice with some marinara sauce and some shredded cheese.

At this point, you can get creative and put whichever other topping you’d like, as if you were topping a pizza!

Bake the pizza’s in a 425 degree oven until the cheese melts and turns golden.

Enjoy your individual pizzas!

Eggplant Parmigiana….Voila`!!

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I have been craving this dish for some time now and finally decided to make it!  It takes a little bit of time, therefore I had to wait for a quiet weekend day to prepare it!  Today was the perfect opportunity.  I started by putting on some music! This always makes it all the much more enjoyable 🙂

I began by peeling 2 large eggplants and then slicing them into 1/8″ thick pieces. 

I placed all the slices into a colander and sprinkled them with salt.  I let them sit in the colander for about 45 minutes, after which I rinsed and dried them all.

I coated each slice with some flour, dipped them into a beaten egg, and then patted some dried bread crumbs onto each slice.

Working with a bit at a time, I fried each one up in some hot olive oil until they were golden brown. 

With each batch that I removed, I blotted the excess oil with a paper towel.

Once all the eggplants had been fried, it was time to assemble the parmigiana!

I started by placing a small amount of prepared marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.  I used the same marinara sauce that I made a while back from all the “ugly” tomatoes  from the farmers market.

I then began layering the eggplant slices, more marinara sauce, and grated mozzarella and pecorino cheese until I had made 2 layers.  I finished it off with marinara sauce and cheese.

It then went into a 350 degree oven until the cheese melted and it was HOT! 

It turned out so good – I LOVE eggplant parmigiana.

And, as an extra treat, I found a great use for those few left over fried eggplant slices that wouldn’t fit in the dish!  I dipped each one into some left over marinara sauce and had an instant appetizer!  Yummy!

Tomato Rejects from the Farmer’s Market – My Favorite!!!

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While at the Farmer’s Market yesterday, the tomatoes were at their finest – deep red and oh so sweet!!    I immediately bought some at regular price because I knew that we would be enjoying them for a delicious salad once we got home.  They were perfect in every way.  As I was paying for them, an idea quickly popped into my head.  What about all those “ugly” tomatoes that are already too ripe?  Would they sell them to me?  So…I asked!  Oh, yes, they are under the table in a bin and we are selling them at half price!  So, back to the tomato table I went and began my forage in the “ugly” tomato bin.  Yes, some were cracked….yes, some were even starting to get moldy….so I realized that I was going to have to check each one carefully to make sure they were acceptable.  I came out with a bag of “ugly”, but not sickly, tomatoes.  These were going to become some marinara sauce!!  I couldn’t wait to get started.

Once home, I put a pot of boiling water on the stove. I washed the “uglies”, cut a little slit in the skin on both ends, and dropped them (2 at a time) into the boiling water for about a minute.  From there I transferred them to a bowl of cold water to stop their cooking.  I continued this process until I had blanched all the tomatoes.  Once done, I started peeling the skins.  They all came off perfectly.  Now I had a collection of whole peeled tomatoes on my cutting board.  OK, so now I needed to seed them.  This proved to be a bit of a challenge.  Many years ago I had bought a Moulinex food mill, which I have to say, I have never used.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really remember how to assemble it, but after a few trys, I got it!  So….not remembering if the food needed to be cooked or raw, I tried to seed my yet uncooked tomatoes.  No luck!  Turned the blade one way – nothing.  Turned the blade the other way – again nothing.  It was starting to look like I was going to have to seed the tomatoes by hand.  OK…so I began the process, but of course, some seeds stayed behind.  Now, I don’t mind a few seeds in my sauce – I never really seem to notice them.  Therefore, I didn’t let this bother me.  Seeded and chopped, the tomatoes were now ready to be cooked.  I placed a healthy amount of olive oil in a pot and sauteed a generous amount of chopped onions, garlic and celery until they were soft and a bit golden.  To this I added the tomatoes and some chopped basil, along with some salt and pepper.  I let this simmer slowly for about an hour, adjusting the spices as needed. 

Once again, I decided to try the food mill to see if I could break down the tomato chunks (and yes, pull out the remaining seeds) on my cooked tomatoes.  The mill turned easier with the softer food, but all I got was tomato juice!!!  Forget it, I decided!  So, I got out my trusty hand-held blender and worked away at the sauce.  The consistency was perfect!  The sweetness of the tomatoes created a beautiful marinara sauce which I divided into several containers and put into the freezer to enjoy whenever I need this tasty summer treat!    Even though these tomatoes were ugly, they sure turned out some of the sweeetest sauce ever!