Even with being as big of a health nut as am, it still took me a little over 30 years to finally give eggplant a try. The only time I ever really had the chance to try eggplant was in Eggplant Parmesan. But since I am a little like my husband when it comes to proteins, if given the choice between Eggplant Parm and Chicken Parm, I am definitely going with the bird. That is probably why it has taken so long for me to try this veggie. So what did I think? One things is for sure, if it tastes as good in other recipes as it does in this version of Ina Garten's inspired Eggplant Gratin, than I am now officially an eggplant lover for life. Check it out!
fat free cooking spray (suggested, olive oil cooking spray)
3/4 pound eggplant, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup FAT FREE or SKIM ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup FAT FREE half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce (Like Newman's Own Marinara Sauce)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a very large frying pan over medium heat and spray with olive oil cooking spray. Add several slices of eggplant and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked eggplant slices to paper towels to a platter. Spray again and add more eggplant until all the slices are cooked.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Place the gratins on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.
This recipe makes a fantastic side dish! In Ina's recipe, these amounts make 2 servings. If you are going to make this for two, then you can go ahead and call it the main course. Serve it with a little garlic bread and a glass of wine....YUM! But by breaking this recipe down into 4 servings, you are able to create an impressive, low-calorie, low-fat side. Let's just say that I am in love with Eggplant Gratin! In fact, I ate the left-over dish for my snack after school. So I guess it makes a great snack too!
Look below and see how the nutritional info breaks down. Just by swapping out the whole versions of Ricotta and half-and-half for the fat free variety, we are able to save around 66 calories and 7.5 grams of fat per serving! See how easy it is eat great while cookin' lean!
Calories 190.0 123.5
Fat 12.0 4.5
Carbohydrates 14.0 15.0
Protein 11.5 9.4
As you can see from the numbers, fat and calories were significantly cut by making these simple changes. It is also important to note that the carbohydrates increased by 1 gram and the protein was reduced by almost 2 grams. Although we don't like to see the protein go because of how great it is for our bodies, the savings we are making in other areas makes the protein loss worth it. Even so, we are still getting a decent amount of protein from this lightened version of Ina Garten's Eggplant Parmesan. I really do encourage you to give it a go...especially if have managed to avoid the eggplant like I have.