Introduce your kids to the wonders of eggplant by preparing eggplant Parmesan, a vegetarian Italian casserole that is layered like lasagna but with eggplant in place of the lasagna noodles. Because it is almost entirely vegetables and cheese, eggplant Parmesan is not a stand-alone meal. Choose complementary side dishes to serve alongside the casserole and create a more balanced plate.
Many eggplant Parmesan recipes are full of grease and cheese, so if you are trying to serve healthy meals in your home, make a few modifications. One solution is to bake the breaded eggplant slices instead of frying them in oil. Another way to reduce the fat content is to use cheese made from low-fat milk or to use less cheese than the recipe requires. One less traditional, but equally delicious, alternative is to avoid breading the eggplant. Bake the eggplant and add flavor to the recipe by mixing a ranch seasoning mix into the ricotta cheese.
Serve eggplant Parmesan over a bed of your favorite noodles. Egg noodles, spaghetti and penne are just a few options. Use whole-wheat noodles to get more fiber and grains in your diet. Another option is to serve garlic bread on the side. Keep this low fat by buttering just one side of the bread or spritzing olive oil on the bread instead of butter.
Although eggplant Parmesan has plenty of vegetables between the eggplant and the tomato sauce, you can probably get away with serving yet another vegetable as a side dish by choosing a different color. A green salad with Italian toppings, such as black olives, salami, a little bit of shaved Parmesan and light Italian or creamy dressing is one option. Or, use a salad kit to make a fast Caesar salad. Steamed broccoli or asparagus also work well alongside eggplant Parmesan.
After a heavy meal of eggplant Parmesan, choose a light dessert to serve your family. Sliced strawberries with a small scoop of ice cream, Italian gelato or ricotta cheese with orange zest is a simple option. Fruit pies or tarts are also common in Italy and are easy to make if you have a store-bought pie crust or tart shell. Adults might enjoy coffee with biscotti. For the kids, make some hot chocolate. Once they learn they can dunk the biscotti in the hot chocolate, they'll be hooked. In the summer, opt for granita, which is shaved ice topped with a simple fruit-flavored syrup.
- EatingWell; EatingWell's Eggplant Parmesan; September 1995
- Better Homes and Gardens: Scrumptious Italian Desserts
- "Joy of Cooking"; Irma S. Rombauer; 2006
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