Melanzane alla Parmigiana (Eggplant & Parmensan Pasta free Lasagna)

melanzane-alla-parmigianThe last days of November are bringing cooler temperatures and with them, the sudden appeal of a warm oven in the kitchen.

Today I would like to share my version of this typical southern Italian recipe, which is I think, quite close to the traditional formula, and absolutely delicious.

The amount of parmesan cheese makes dish a bit high in fats, but on the other hand, it is quite low in calories and doesn’t contain high GI carbs, so it’s diet friendly if you avoid to mix it with sweets, bread, rice, potato and the other usual suspects.

Also, if you are trying to cut the fats, you can swap most of the parmesan cheese for a low fat grated mozzarella, but I warn you… the parmesan here is the flavor kick, so I would try to keep it in!

This is a time consuming recipe, but it’s not difficult and you can freeze it. I normally bake to smaller portions of it and keep them frozen, very handy for a week day dinner! Just add 15 minutes of baking when you cook from frozen.

Ingredients (4 people):

1 or 2 Eggplants (depending on size)

800 gr of peeled canned natural tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 an onion finely chopped

4 basil leaves chopped

150 gr parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon extra virgin Olive Oil

Salt

A little sweeter or Agave Nectar

 

First we need to make the tomato sauce. We put the olive oil in a pan to medium/high heat and we add the finely chopped onion, when it starts getting transparent (3 to 4 minutes) add the garlic, leave a couple more minutes and add the tomatoes, straight from the can, with all their juice. Mash the tomatoes carefully with a wooden spoon and let it cook in medium low heat, simmering gently for about 10 minutes.

Then add a pinch of salt and a pinch of sweetener or agave nectar (1 teaspoon) and try the flavor. The tomato is a very acidic fruit (yes, it is a fruit, not a veggie! 🙂 ) and any time you are cooking with it, both salt and sugar (or a sweetener alternative) should be added. You can add more salt, and more sweetener until you are happy with the taste but remember, if you put too little, you can always add more, but if you put too much, there is no way back!

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Then add the chopped basil and leave for another 15/20 minutes making sure the sauce is not too lumpy or to dry, we want a fairly runny texture for this dish, because later it will loose water in the oven.

 

While the tomato cooks, wash and cut the eggplant in thin slices (1/2 a cm each) and remove the very top and bottom of them. Prepare a large oven tray and spread them on top, with some salt. Sprinkle with an Olive Oil spray if you have it, or brush them lightly if you don’t.

Bake for about 8 to 10 minutes at 150 C degrees and remove. Keep the oven at that temperature and the door closed.

Then pick an oven tray of medium size and start making layers of tomato sauce, parmesan cheese and baked eggplant until you run out of them, making sure you keep the better looking slices for the top, cover with the rest of the sauce and sprinkle with extra cheese and bake in the over for 30 to 45 minutes.

You might need to bake it covered with aluminum foil for the first 30 minutes to avoid the top layer from charring.

Remove the cover and grill for the last 5 minutes.

melanzane-alla-parmigiana

As you can see, I have kept the fats to a minimum here but the cheese is quite fatty, so my diet tip is accompany with a salad!

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