Thursday, August 8, 2019

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

I feel like eggplant is not the most universally loved summer vegetable, and yet even eggplant-haters often make an exception for marinara-soaked, cheese-cloaked eggplant parm. There is something about the combination of tender eggplant, acidic tomato sauce, and melted mozz to win over hearts all around.

Instead of making a traditional casserole-style eggplant parmesan I wanted to make composed stacks so each person can have their own pretty little portion. I skipped the messy steps of breading and frying my eggplant slices for a much lighter version that is only 3 Weight Watchers SmartPoints per stack (the cheese is the only culprit in this version of the classic dish).

Before baking

With that said, you can still use the same recipe to make a casserole if you'd prefer. Simply cook the eggplant and sauce the same way as described, but assemble it into layers in a casserole dish with a puddle of sauce on the bottom, and bake it for a bit longer until bubbly throughout.

This stacked delight is just as comforting as the original rendition but a bit more composed and personalized. I sliced my eggplants lengthwise for slightly larger portions that are appropriate as a main dish, however you can also slice your eggplants into rounds to create smaller but more plentiful stacks to serve as a side dish or even starter.

The tomato sauce used here is my go-to hardly-any-ingredients basic marinara which I use for various purposes. It's easy, quick, and fat-free. You can add more spices or use your favorite sauce recipe, or even a jarred sauce if you prefer. You'll likely have a bit more sauce than you'll need for these stacks.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
Serves 4 to 6 (depending on your eggplants)

2 medium eggplants (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)
Oil spray
Kosher salt

1 (28-ounce) can crushed or ground peeled tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 to 9 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
Chopped fresh basil, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Spray 2 large sheet pans (or 1 extra large sheet pan) with oil spray.

Trim the eggplants, peel them if you desire, and slice lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange eggplant slices on the prepared sheet pan(s), season with salt, and spray the tops with a little more oil spray. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping the eggplant slices over halfway through, until they are tender and slightly golden.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by adding the crushed tomatoes and garlic to a small saucepan, and heating over medium heat until bubbly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm until ready to use.

Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.

Assemble the stacks on the same pan used to roast the eggplant slices (I just pile them up over to one side and assemble the stacks on the other side of the pan). Top one slice of eggplant with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of sauce, and 1/2 ounce shredded mozzarella. Repeat twice more until you have 3 identical layers. Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices, most of the sauce (you will have more than you need for this), and the cheese. Depending on the size of your eggplants and quantity of slices, the number of stacks may vary in number and size (you will likely have a couple of mini-sized stacks with some of the smaller edge pieces from your eggplants--they are still delicious!). Each stack will use approximately 1/3 cup sauce and 1 1/2 ounces of cheese. I yielded 4 normal-sized stacks and 2 smaller stacks.

Bake the eggplant parmesan stacks for about 10 minutes or until heated through, bubbly, and the cheese has melted. Meanwhile, reheat the remaining tomato sauce if needed.

Spoon a few more tablespoons of the sauce onto each plate and carefully place an eggplant stack on the top. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh basil, and serve immediately.


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