Friday, August 29, 2008

Baked Eggplant with Mushroom-Tomato Sauce: An Acceptance Speech

My fellow Americans,

It is with great pride and a few extra green peppers that I, Cooking Light’s Baked Eggplant with Mushroom-Tomato Sauce, accept your nomination for Best-Ever Eggplant Dish on CHG.

Yes, the contest has been mighty. Baba Ghanouj, Ratatouille, Roasted Eggplant Spread, Broiled Eggplant Japonaise, Eggplant Mini-Pizzas, Angel Hair Pasta with Eggplant-Tomato Sauce, and of course, Cheesy Eggplant Bake … you’ve been noble, wonderful competitors, and I salute your staying power.

But … was it ever really in doubt?

My thick, hearty substance …

My deep, rich flavors …

My truly welcomed hint of cheesiness at the end…

These are qualities – AMERICAN qualities – that must be gained through learning, effort, and an hour in the oven.

There were changes, yes. I won’t deny that. My supporters suggested adding red pepper flakes, a cup of chopped green pepper, and ridding the eggplant of its initial bitterness. I reflected on these ideas, and then accepted them. In the end, they didn’t make me weak or flip-floppy. No – the alterations only made me MORE DELICIOUS. And isn’t that what you want in a leader?

Some may criticize my newness, or my smaller portion sizes, which might only feed three people instead of four. To that, I say we MUST re-adjust our conception of what constitutes a normal serving. Or, for those unwilling to change, perhaps SERVE ME WITH BREAD OR PASTA. It’s that simple. Do you think the other dishes would suggest such maverick ideas? I think not.

Ultimately, I am a dish of change, my friends. Change and hope. By eating me, you are no longer bound to heavy, messy, fat-saturated globs of rancid eggplant parmesan. Nor are you subjugate to the oppression of thin, tasteless substitutes. I am the perfect combination of ferocious vegetable nutrition and monumental culinary triumph.

And with that, I turn this convention over to the weekend.

Good night and godspeed.

Baked Eggplant with Mushroom-Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Adapted from Cooking Light.

1 peeled eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (8-ounce) mushrooms, sliced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, divided
2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

1) Salt eggplant slices and place in colander on top of a plate. After 30 minutes, rinse eggplant thoroughly and pat down with paper towels.

2) Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray.

3) Lay eggplant out on the sheet. Broil 8 minutes, flipping once, until both sides are a little brown.

4) Turn oven to 375°F. Coat a 1 1/2-quart baking dish (round if possible) with cooking spray.

5) In a large nonstick pan or skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic, and mushrooms. Cover. Saute 7 or 8 minutes, until soft, lifting cover to stir occasionally. Jack heat up to medium-high. Take cover off. Cook a few more minutes (not more than 4 or 5) "until liquid evaporates."

6) Pour 1/2 mushroom/onion mixture into baking dish. Place 1/2 of the eggplant in a layer on top of that. "Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon pepper." Spread 1/2 cup tomato sauce on top of the eggplant. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.  Repeat layers, leaving off the mozzarella at the end. Cover (with tin foil or dish lid) and bake 60 minutes. Uncover. Sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup mozzarella and all the parmesan. Bake 5 minutes. Cheese should melt. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
178 calories, 6.7 g fat, $1.66

Calculations
1 peeled eggplant: $1.24
Cooking spray: $0.02
1 teaspoon olive oil: $0.04
1 cup chopped onion: $0.44
1 cup chopped green pepper: $0.50
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning: $0.02
1/4 teaspoon salt: $0.01
2 garlic cloves, chopped: $0.06
1 (8-ounce) package presliced mushrooms: $1.99
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided: $0.01
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, divided: $0.70
2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided: $0.94
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese: $0.67
TOTAL: $6.64
PER SERVING (TOTAL/4): $1.66

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8 comments:

cherie said...

You are just hilarious - a great kick off to the weekend!

Jessie said...

When I cook for my dad I always leave out a jar of chunky PB and a loaf of bread as the safety net - but didn't need it this time. Mr. "Vegetables=Potatoes" loved it. I'm sure the breaded chicken I plopped on top of his serving helped, but he had seconds and that counts for a lot.

Anonymous said...

I made this last night. Only change I made was more part-skim mozzerella added and used an 8x8 baking dish. It was delicious!! I felt like it was a huge treat and can't wait to make it again and show it off to others. This quickly became one of my favorite dishes. It took awhile to make, especially since I'm pretty new at cooking for myself, but it was oh so worth it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Chelsey said...

I'm really looking forward to making this recipe- it looks delicious! Just wondering what everyone else served with this that was good?

Kris said...

@Chelsey: I go with a little bit of pasta. Delicious.

Anonymous said...

Just finished making this recipe and it turned out great!! I added some soy meat crumbles for some more protein, but otherwise followed the recipe. Thanks for a great dinner!

ebroe said...

First, let me say I'm so glad I stumbled upon this website! I have been obsessively reading articles and shared the link with friends - thanks for a great site!

This is the first recipe I tried and WOW, it was so amazingly good. Can't wait to make it again soon. Granted, I did throw a few lowfat sausage crumbles in with the onions so my fiance would eat it (vegetarian dishes are sacreligious to him). We fought over who gets to bring the leftovers for lunch this morning, so I will be making it again soon!

Kara said...

Love this dish, so inexpensive, but easy to pass off as something special. Last time I made it I threw in a layer of fresh ricotta and basil, yum! My boyfriend (who grew up eating amazing Italian cooking) said it was one of his favorite meals ever! Kudos!