I really wanted to post this a couple weeks ago, in case anyone was looking for meatless recipes during Lent, but I’m just now getting around to it. So just in time for a Meatless Monday instead! My friend Tracy introduced me to this recipe a few years ago – I fell in love with it then, and each time I’ve made it since I fall in love with it all over again. I have a couple of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks, and I love his stuff because it’s usually pretty easy and relatively healthy. This recipe is no exception.
His eggplant parm is lighter than most because his eggplant is grilled (or roasted) rather than breaded and fried like the traditional recipe. Each time I make it I’m reminded of how eggplant immediately soaks up olive oil, so you really need to brush it on rather than drizzle it (as evidenced above). Jamie has you grill the eggplant slices either on the stove top or barbecue (his recipe can be found here), but Tracy sent me a variation on the recipe (found here – love the Wednesday Chef!) and she just brushes them with olive oil and roasts them in the oven, which seems easier to me.
Everything else comes together pretty quickly, and the sauce is the best part – every time I make this dish I start thinking I should be making this sauce by itself, any time I need a marinara (which I suppose is basically never, but if I did). The San Marzano tomatoes really make a difference, which I say only for the benefit of people who don’t already know that (as I realize many of you already do).
I put it on top of whole wheat, Omega-3 fortified pasta (which tastes amazingly just like normal noodles), but I had the leftovers plain and it was still delicious – the eggplant is substantial enough you don’t really need the pasta. I will tell you that between prepping and roasting the eggplant, making the sauce, and then baking the casserole, the dish doesn’t come together quickly – but that shouldn’t deter you from making it. If you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal, I would suggest perhaps making the sauce and/or roasting the eggplant the night before, and then putting it together and baking it the following evening. Otherwise, if you get home as late as I do, dinner won’t be ready until bedtime. But although it is time-consuming, it’s really not hard. If you try it, let me know what you think. And if you have any other “Meatless Monday” recipes to share, or Jamie favorites, I’d love to hear them in the comments. Happy Monday, everyone! And Buon Appetito!