Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan

"Oh dear. That's not good."
That was my reaction the other morning when, for the first time in a month, I weighed myself.

I wasn't entirely surprised, and I imagine you aren't either, even before I had just stopped weighing in, the scale had been creeping dangerously upward for a few months. Taking the month of July off to just not care at all hadn't helped things. Still I regret nothing. The Blueberry Peach Gratin, the Kale cooked in Panchetta grease, the Food Truck Drive In, all were amazing ways to spend my summer. And then there's the food I didn't blog about, but lets just saying I'm getting markedly better at homemade ice cream. Ooo, and Restaurant Week was great, I highly recomend the egg yolk in truffle butter of "Uovo" at SD26. But not as diet food.

So yes, I have officially gained back half the weight I had taken off for the wedding, but I haven't been all that depressed about it. Why? Because August is an amazing month to cut your calories by eating fresh veggies and lots of them. The days in early summer when the farmer's market was a bit sparse are long gone, and now table after table teems with food pulled right out of the ground and ready to be my dinner. I filled my freezer with homemade veggie stock last weekend and I am all ready to see what low cal options I have as the harvest comes in. I'm already dreaming of remaking that Zucchini Soup vegetarian style.

A stroll through the farmer's market this past weekend had me picking up my very first Eggplant of the year, and with the beautiful tomatoes piled in bin after bin, I knew just what I was craving. I wanted Eggplant Parmesan. "WAIT!" I can hear you all crying, "Deep frying your veggies is not going to help trim your waistline!" While I have breaded and fried my veggies before (and believe me I love them that way) this recipe only calls for grilling the eggplant. No egg, no breading, no frying. Which means like 87% less guilt. There is a bit of cheese still involved, which if you are super dieting you could go with the low fat versions available in every supermarket. Since I had already foregone meat and deep frying, I figured I could afford real cheese. Besides, I had a huge chunk of aged parmesan just sitting in my fridge. I refuse to be wasteful.

Speaking of not wasting things, I had a bowl of lovely heirloom cherry tomatoes sitting in a bowl on my table that we picked up at Brooklyn Grange last week (still love these guys and their rooftop garden). It wasn't nearly enough to complete my sauce, but they were going to turn soon if I didn't use them, so I combined them with the plum tomatoes I had picked up. This paled the color of the sauce a bit, but the flavor was still great. Also it looked really pretty sitting in the blender.

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan
Adapted from Gourmet
Serves 4


Tomato Sauce:
- 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (the light stuff if your super worried about total calories)

- 4 (6 inch) hoagie rolls, split
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 (1 lb.) eggplants
- 1/2 lb. thinly sliced provolone or fresh mozzarella (again, there are light versions)
- 1 cup of basil leaves

Puree tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Heat oil in a 3-4 quart heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Saute onion and garlic with red pepper flakes until golden, about 4 minutes. Add tomato puree, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. (If you've made a tomato sauce before, you know there's room to play here. I threw in a pinch of brown sugar to cut the acidity and a shake of my favorite focaccia blend because I believe it can do no wrong. If you have some seasoning you think would make this even more kick ass, go nuts.)

Once sauce is prepared place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush grill pan with olive oil. Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/2 inch think slices. Brush both sides of slices with olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt.

Grill eggplant, loosening with a spatula and turning occasionally to avoid over browning, until very tender and clear grill marks appear, about 6 to 8 minutes. In between flips you can cover your grill pan with a cookie sheet.

Toast rolls. While rolls are still hot, lay on cheese. (I did this while they sat in my toaster oven, and then waited for the cheese to melt to remove them.) Top with eggplant, and spoon on about 3 tablespoons of sauce per sandwich. Place basil leaves on top. If you like, you can add a small sprinkle of parmesan to finish.

These sandwiches are great. They burst with all the bounty of the farmer's market, and they are so low on the guilt scale that I had two of them (seconds are probably not dietician recommended). Before we moved to NY I don't think Will had ever eaten eggplant, but there he was, inhaling this vegetarian delight.

So the goal is to lose 3-4 pounds by the end of August, since I'm going to the shore on Labor Day. How am I doing?  I'm breaking my own rules here and going public with some sensitive information. Be kind. On July 31 I weighed in at 136.2 (the wedding weight was around 129). Therefore the goal for the month is between 132.2 and 133.2, and this morning I am down to 135.4! I have rejoined my gym as well and I am on my way! Feel free to play along at home, I'll give you an update of my status and hopefully a healthy new recipe every Wednesday this month. Having your own weight loss struggles as the summer plies us with pie and ice cream? Tell me what you plan to do (or not do) in the comments! And cheer me on!


Mari said...

I love it! Looks very light.

Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Anonymous said...

I have an eggplant, hanging around my fridge. I should try this. It looks delicious and not so heavy as my fried eggplant Parm.

Squeaky Gourmet said...

excellent! Was the skin of the eggplant not too tough to eat this way, though?

Claudia said...

The eggplants and tomatoes are in the garden and asking to be made. So fortuitous - just in time! Light Parmigiano-Reggiano? Heaven forbid!

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