Every now and again I try a recipe re-vamp (to make it bariatric friendly) and it blows me away. This is one! I love aubergine/eggplant parmigiana – that classic northern Italian dish, made with vegetables, tomato sauce and cheese layered in a dish to make a wonderful bake. In a restaurant
it can be highly calorific but cooked this new way isn’t and yet has all the flavour of the original.
I have made it with tofu and also with tofu and minced/ground beef mixed or beef alone and they all work superbly – so decide for yourself if you want the vegetarian or carnivore option (or a half-half compromise with lowering the meat load). You can also use Quorn if liked. If using beef (or other meat like chicken, turkey, pork or lamb for that matter) then simply brown in a pan until no longer pink. Depending upon what you use it can take a little time to get to the table so I tend to prepare ahead, cover and chill and then cook when required. It does however freeze beautifully and can be reheated when required and solves the problem of what to do with leftovers.
To speed things up you could use a good low-sugar marinara or tomato-based pasta sauce (although I often find it just as easy to cook a couple of cans of chopped tomatoes with a chopped onion and some dried herbs until thick and reduced); and also sub frozen grilled vegetables for the aubergine/eggplant and courgette/zucchini – in which case there is no need to pre-cook at all.
One word of caution – if you’re using the tofu then do take time to squeeze well to remove as much moisture as possible so that you get a bake that is great to portion and slice. Those who are near the end of their soft and puréed (amber stage) stage of eating may well also find they can tolerate this dish if fork mashed too.
Aubergine/Eggplant Parmigiana on the Bariatric Portion Plate
1 aubergine/eggplant (weighing about 450 g/1 lb)
low-fat cooking spray or oil-mist
salt and freshly ground black pepper
450 g/1 lb firm tofu, tofu and cooked minced/ground beef, or cooked minced/ground beef
100 g/1 cup grated low-fat or regular mozzarella cheese
250 g/1 cup reduced-fat or regular ricotta cheese
450 g/2 cups low-sugar marinara or tomato pasta sauce (or your own home-made)
a large handful of fresh basil leaves
1 large courgette/zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
3 tbsp/¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
fresh basil sprigs, to garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/gas mark 7.
- Slice the aubergine/eggplant into 6mm/¼ inch discs and place in a single layer on a non-stick baking tray (you may need two trays) and spritz liberally with low-fat cooking spray or oil mist. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast until lightly browned and tender, about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Meanwhile, if using the tofu, squeeze firmly to remove as much liquid as possible then crumble into a bowl. If using the beef, add to the tofu or place the whole quantity in a bowl. Add the mozzarella and ricotta cheese with salt and pepper to taste, mixing well.
- Cover the base of a 23 x 30 cm/9 x 12 inch baking dish with about 175 g/¾ cup of the marinara sauce. Top with half of the basil leaves torn into rough pieces, then half of the prepared roasted aubergine/eggplant, half of the courgette/zucchini rounds and finally half of the tofu or beef mixture.
- Repeat with a further 175 g/¾ cup of the marinara sauce, the remaining basil, roasted aubergine/eggplant, courgettes/zucchini and tofu or beef mixture. Finally spoon over the remaining marinara sauce and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. At this stage the dish can be covered and chilled until required for cooking.
- Bake the prepared dish in the oven until the aubergine/eggplant is tender and the dish is golden and crusty on top, about 30-40 minutes.
- Allow to stand for 5 minutes after removing from the oven before slicing to serve, garnished with basil if liked.
SERVES 4 (generously)
CALORIES (USING TOFU): 327
PROTEIN: 28.3 g
CARBOHYDRATE: 16.1 g
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