(The first in an occasional series of low-calorie meal recipes.)
I should weigh 1000 pounds.
After making, eating and writing about food for RootsLiving – with recipes such as Ma’s Stuffed Peppers, Mac and Cheese for Adults, Chicken with Polenta, and Italian Cheeseburgers — I need to start focusing on some low-cal dishes.
I started creating low calorie meals several years ago when my wife joined Weight Watchers. My criteria for inventing these dishes was that they not only be low calorie — and low in Weight Watcher points — but they also be healthy and just as flavorful as the fattening stuff.
This eggplant parmesan dish meets that criteria by using a red Italian sauce made with carrots that was one of my father’s favorites. He got the recipe from our cousins who live near the walled city of Lucca in Italy. And I can assure you that none of them used this sauce in their favorite dishes because they were watching their weight.
And oh, yeah, there’s one more thing: this eggplant parmesan contains no parmesan cheese.
You could add some and boost the calorie (or points) up a bit. But with the wide-variety of intermingling flavors contained in this dish, I don’t think you’ll miss it.
Eggplant Parmesan Light (About 1 or 2 Weight Watcher points per serving)
- 1 medium to large eggplant (Pick an eggplant that is shiny with a deep, rich, purple color. It should also be firm all around, with no soft spots)
- 1 cup or so of the red carrot sauce (see recipe below)
- Small thin slices of low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese (just enough to cover each eggplant slice)
- 1 lemon
- 2-3 teaspoons of olive oil
- Salt (I prefer Kosher salt for all cooking)
- Fresh basil leaves (about 2-4)
What I did:
Brush a cookie sheet with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil so that eggplant slices won’t stick too much.
Peel eggplant and cut into thin slices, no more than a 1/4-inch thick.
Cut lemon into wedges and squeeze juice into small bowl. Brush each eggplant slice with the lemon juice and salt. Then place on cookie sheet.
Bake eggplant slices in batches in a 450 degree oven. Turn slices over being careful not to burn.
Lightly brush olive oil into small casserole dish or baking pan. Put down one layer of eggplant slices. Top each slice with a very thin slice of mozzarella cheese and then cover with carrot sauce.
Repeat until all eggplant slices are used. Place a small piece of fresh basil on top of the top slices.
Bake eggplant in a 350 degree oven until cheese melts (about 10 minutes).
Italian Red Sauce Made with Carrots
- 1 garlic clove (lightly crushed but kept whole)
- 1 onion (chopped fine in a food processor or by hand)
- 4 carrots (chopped fine in a food processor or by hand)
- 2 celery stalks (chopped fine in a food processor or by hand)
- 1-2 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley
- 1/2 can of tomato paste
- 3 cups of water
- 1/2 cup of red wine
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried basil
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
What I did:
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan. Add garlic and onion and cook until translucent.
Add chopped carrots, celery, and parsley. Saute until soft, stirring often for about 15 minutes.
Add tomato paste and enough water to turn sauce orange (about 3 cups). Cook until water is reduced and sauce becomes thick (about 15 minutes). Stir often.
Add wine and cook for about another 10 minutes, stirring often. Add salt and pepper to taste, and basil.
(All photos by Mark Micheli)
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