Several online sites were touting this low-carb Stuffed Eggplant Parm recipe as an antidote to all the rich meals that have been consumed over the holidays. No frying needed, and it will even entice you to eat your vegetables. Count me in!
An interesting aspect of eggplant is its “shady” connections, since it’s a member of the nightshade family of plants with tomatoes, potatoes, and bell peppers, as well as chili peppers, habeñeros, jalapeños, and paprika—all ingredients that I adore.
Let’s ruminate over the “purple peasant” for a moment. Eggplants are fruits native to the Indian subcontinent but are now found throughout the world in different cultural cuisines. In England, they are known as “aubergine”, and are also called brinjal, melongene, and guinea squash. These purple or black glossy fruits can grow more than a foot in length in wild varieties, though they are considerably smaller in normal agriculture.
Although they are fruits, eggplants are commonly called the “king of vegetables,” as they are one of the most versatile and functional foods in the Indian cultural gamut. They have the consistency of a tomato, in terms of texture and density and are a perfect addition to soups, stews, and sauces. They also contain almost no cholesterol, or saturated fat.
When choosing an eggplant, it should be firm and not too large. The length of a cucumber and the general circumference of a very large pear should be about right. Smaller eggplants are less likely to be bitter (a bit of salt can help with this) and have fewer seeds, although these are edible.
Studies indicate that eggplant has a number of health benefits. While eggplants don’t have an overwhelming supply of any one nutrient, they do contain an impressive array across the board of many vitamins and minerals, such as excellent amounts of fiber, folate, potassium and manganese, as well as vitamins C, K, and B6, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and pantothenic acid.
According to lore, ancient Mediterranean people reportedly nicknamed it “mad apple,” believing that eating eggplant every day for a month would cause insanity. I don’t think I like anything enough to want to eat it every day for a month, but this was way-good-enough to eat several times in one week…
- 1 1/2 cup marinara, divided
- 2 medium eggplants, halved
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (we used gluten-free)
- 1/4 cup basil, chiffonade
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spread about 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a medium baking dish.
- Using a spoon, hollow out the eggplants leaving about a 1/2” thick border around skin to create a boat. Roughly chop scooped out eggplant.
- Place eggplant boats on prepared baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in chopped eggplant and season with oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is golden and tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer mixture to a bowl. To the bowl with the eggplant mixture, add chopped tomatoes, egg, 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, and 1/2 cup marinara. Mix until just combined.
- Scoop mixture into eggplant boats. Top with more mozzarella, Parmesan and bread crumbs.
- Bake until the eggplants are tender and the cheese has melted and is lightly browned, about 50-60 minutes.
- Garnish with basil and serve warm.
This is a complete meal by itself, but we served ours with a side salad.