“I enjoy cooking with wine and sometimes I put it in the food.” – Julia Child.
I’m not sure Julia Child would have appreciated Good Mother Diet as she was quite the meat lover and on her cooking show she was always throwing raw meat around or making raw chickens dance, but I can like her anyway as she was ground breaking in her approach to cooking. She had a no nonsense approach in the kitchen and a great sense of humor. In response to critics who thought she used too much butter, she said “We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.” I can certainly agree with her on that!
Eggplant is considered one of the worlds healthiest foods and it has a meaty texture that makes it a good substitute for meat. Globe eggplants, in particular, are best if they are salted and drained (known as “degorging”) before cooking, to soften them and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking. Raw eggplant can absorb an incredible amount of oil which adds unnecessary calories and fat. Eggplant is naturally low fat and low carb. Salting also removes any bitterness from the eggplant.
I spotted this eggplant recipe on Kalyns Kitchen and loved the simplicity. It is inspired by Julia’s original recipe for what she calls Eggplant Pizza in her cookbook, From Julia Child’s Kitchen. Rather than making a traditional Eggplant Parmesan where the eggplant is breaded and fried before baking with layers of sauce and cheese, this version is grain free and brushed with olive oil and herbs before baking. Slicing the eggplant into thick circles and making individual portions makes it very easy to serve. I made this dish for a potluck where we needed to serve a lot of people, so I doubled the recipe. Needless to say, I came home with an empty platter! I love a homemade sauce (and not just because it makes my kitchen smell divine) but you can skip that step and use any sauce you like from a jar as a shortcut. I loved this recipe, which is not fussy but really delicious, and I will definitely make it again. Next time I’m hoping for leftovers! Thanks Julia!
Photo Credit: http://www.werecommend.com
Eggplant Parm Minis
1 globe eggplant
1 T salt
2 T olive oil
2 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
10 large basil leaves, cut in chiffonade strips
1/2 cup freshly Parmesan
1/2 cup grated mozzarella
red pepper flakes(optional)
1 Tbsn extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with liquid (or 2 cups peeled and diced fresh tomatoes)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano (or1 Tbsn fresh oregano, minced)
1 Tbsn fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper to taste
- Slice eggplant into 3/4 inch thick slices (trying to make them the same thickness to insure even cooking.) Put the eggplant pieces on a double layer of paper towels and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. Let the eggplant sit with the salt on it for 20- 30 minutes to draw out the liquid.
- While the eggplant sits, make the sauce. Saute the garlic in olive oil until it becomes fragrant. Add the tomatoes with the juice, oregano and basil and let it cook at a low simmer until it’s thickened. You can break up the tomatoes with a fork as it softens to make the mixture more sauce like.
- After 20- 30 minutes, the eggplant slices should be dotted with drops of water and the paper towels wet. Wipe the slices dry with paper towels, which also removes most of the salt.
- Coat the bottom of a baking pan with olive oil and arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer. Brush the tops of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.
- Roast the eggplant about 25 minutes in a 375 degree oven.
- Thinly slice the fresh basil into chiffonade strips. This is easily done by stacking the leaves and slicing into thin strips.
- Combine Parmesan and mozzarella. After 25 minutes remove eggplant from the oven. Spread a few tablespoons of sauce on the top of each eggplant slice.
- Place several slices of basil on each slice.
- Top with a generous amount of cheese and sprinkle with red pepper flakes, if using.
- Turn oven to broil and cook until cheese melts and is slightly browned.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with more fresh basil, if desired