Do you go without meat for your Monday dinner? Many people do, either because they can't afford meat or as a way of avoiding the calories and saturated fat of some meats. Others opt for a non-meat meal at least once a week as as a way of doing their part to help the environment. Meat production uses far more of our world's precious resources--especially water--than growing many other types of food. Some people simply avoid meats as an everyday practice because they choose not to eat animals and/or because they perceive a vegetable-based diet as more healthy than including meats in their daily menus. Whether you're a meat-eater or not, today's post is focused on an option that's great for "Meatless Monday" or any other day of the week. Easy Eggplant Parmesan contains no meat, but it's rich and satisfying. It's also considerably lower in fat and calories than the traditional version. I use Japanese (or Asian) eggplants in the recipe because they aren't bitter, contain fewer seeds, and don't need peeling. Easy. Even easier is using a slow cooker to prepare the dish and eliminating any precooking or frying of the eggplant. The dish is ready in about 4 hours and is wonderful served with spaghetti or other noodles to catch the hearty sauce. A green salad and Italian bread also make great accompaniments. So think about going meatless on Mondays--or choose another day and try Easy Eggplant Parmesan!
Easy Eggplant Parmesan -- Serves 4+
3-5 Japanese (or Asian) Eggplants, ends trimmed and sliced into 1/4-1/2-inch rounds
1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs
1/2 teaspoon of dried basil
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
3/4 - 1 cup of dried Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (from the round green can is fine)
1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (or just use all grated, which is fine)
1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese (optional)
Coat the insert of a large slow-cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Spread about 1/3 of the crushed tomatoes on the bottom of the insert and add a layer of sliced eggplant, overlapping them a little or not, depending on the size of your insert. Sprinkle on half of the Italian herbs, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and drizzle half of the olive oil evenly over the eggplant slices (or use a misto sprayer filled with olive oil and mist the eggplant slices). Sprinkle half of the breadcrumbs and half of the grated Parmesan cheese over the eggplant slices. Spoon another third of the crushed tomatoes over the eggplant slices. Add the rest of the eggplant slices in another layer and sprinkle on the remainder of the herbs, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Drizzle on the rest of the olive oil and then sprinkle on the remainder of the breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. If you like mozzarella cheese and want to use it, sprinkle it on top of the Parmesan. Spoon on the remainder of the crushed tomatoes and then sprinkle on the rest of the grated or the shredded Parmesan cheese. Cover the slow cooker and cook the eggplant dish on low for about 4 hours or high for about 3 hours or until the edges are starting to brown. Turn off and uncover the slow cooker and let the dish stand for 15 minutes to firm up a little (or just serve the Eggplant Parmesan hot, knowing it will spread all over your noodles, which isn't a bad thing).