Tonight, Matt and I have big plans to continue our Lord of the Rings Extended Edition marathon. Matt has never seen even one of the LOTR movies, so I thought it was about time that I forced him to watch all of them. Not in one sitting, I’m not completely crazy (although I’ve done that). But I solemnly swear that we will get through all of them, even if it takes fifty viewing sessions. To make a TV binge complete, you need some good food to go along with it. Obviously the dinner to accompany our movie needs to be totally yummy and easy to eat in front of the TV. But because it’s a Monday, it also needs to be healthy and quick to prepare. Never fear, I’ve got the perfect meal for a lazy night in front of the tube – my Eggplant Parmesan Skillet with Whole Wheat Pasta.
For a little background on this recipe, let’s rewind two or three weeks to that time when Matt, our two friends, and I road tripped to a secluded log cabin in rural New York for a relaxing weekend away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. I had so much fun planning out all the meals for the trip and coming up with some new recipes to experiment with. One of these delicious recipes was for Eggplant Parmesan Calzones and yes, as you can imagine, they were absolutely delicious. The star of the dish was the Eggplant Parmesan Sauce I made as the filling for the calzones. It was super simple. I just cubed eggplant and cooked it down over the stove top with tomatoes, garlic, seasonings and freshly grated parmesan cheese. This delicious eggplant sauce was then wrapped in pizza dough along with ricotta cheese and fresh mozzarella, and then baked to perfection. These were some of the best calzones any of us had ever had and it was mostly thanks to this flavorful Eggplant Parmesan Sauce.
So now let’s head back to present day and today’s post which is all about that easy Eggplant Parmesan Sauce, but in its most basic form; simply tossed with whole wheat bowtie pasta and served “skillet-style”, with a little extra parmesan and fresh basil sprinkled over top. This is a meal that I refer to as a “half-hour hero”, meaning it’s super quick and ready to serve in less than 30 minutes. In fact, it was so quick and easy that I was able to make it before work enough time to cool it down and pack it up. How nice is it to know that a delicious, fresh and healthy dinner is waiting for you at home? Incredibly nice.
In addition to being fast, wholesome, and yummy, I am happy to say that this meal is also a healthy one. Low calorie eggplant and diced tomatoes make up the bulk of the sauce, with just a tablespoon of oil and a half cup of cheese for the entire four-person recipe. That’s about 140 calories per serving of sauce. Organic 100% whole wheat pasta adds about 250 calories per serving, but also adds protein, fiber, and whole grains. In my book, fewer than 400 calories for a quick and tasty meal like this is definitely something to smile about.
So as you can imagine I’m rather pleased with myself. I have Monday night plans to cuddle up and watch my favorite movie, and I have a nutritious, fresh, and couch-friendly meal already prepared and waiting to be devoured. Not a bad way to start off the week, right? Maybe every Monday night should be “movie marathon and effortless dinner night.” Just a thought, but I may end up running with it. Stay tuned.
Eggplant Parmesan Skillet with Whole Wheat Bowtie Pasta Serves: 4 Calories per Serving: 390 Start to Finish: 30 min.
1 large Eggplant (mine was 1.86 lbs)
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 cups (4 servings) Organic 100% Whole Wheat Pasta, dry
Kosher Salt, fine grain
2 cloves Garlic
10 fresh Basil leaves
1 14-oz can Diced Tomatoes (no-salt added variety)
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme
½ cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Trim the stem and very bottom of the eggplant. Cut eggplant width-wise into 1-inch disks. Cut disks into cubes. They can vary in size, the biggest being 1-inch cubes and smallest being ½-inch cubes. Add eggplant cubes to hot oil, toss to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While eggplant cooks, boil water for pasta in a medium pot. When water boils, add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta. Cook pasta to package instructions. Remove from heat when al dente, drain, and set aside.
Peel and mince garlic cloves. While you’re at it, chop basil leaves for later. After eggplant has cooked for about 10 minutes, add garlic cloves and toss. Cook for 1 minute. Add can of tomatoes, garlic powder, oregano, thyme and salt (I added 2 teaspoons salt). Cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. I added 1/3 cup water when the tomato liquid was absorbed to prevent burning.
When eggplant looks about finished, add chopped basil leaves. Stir to combine and cook for a minute. Remove from heat. Add parmesan cheese and stir. Mix sauce with cooked pasta or serve pasta topped with sauce. Use additional basil and parm for garnish.