29 Mar Savor the Flavor with Eggplant Mash
By Kimberly Visioni, MS, RD, Contributing Blogger
It’s National Nutrition Month and this year’s theme is “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right”. The theme encourages folks to take time and enjoy nutritious and flavorful food, while embracing food traditions. This topic is close to my heart as it evokes so many great memories of my family’s traditions.
As an Italian-American, food preparation and family meals were a central part of my childhood and continue to be to this day. One particular tradition was our Sunday dinners. Without fail, my family and friends would gather every Sunday and sit around the table for hours, enjoying each other’s company and a homemade Italian meal created by my mother (with my help, of course!). Every Sunday meal would include our tomato sauce (AKA gravy) and classic Southern Italian dishes including eggplant parmigiana which was practically a staple in my family’s kitchen.
In fact, eggplant parmigiana is still the centerpiece at our table for family holidays and celebrations. I was taught how to cook at a very young age and most of the dishes I make now have a foundation of Italian ingredients (tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil – the list goes on!). Even when it’s hard to find time to make a big Italian dinner, I continue to revisit our Sunday meals for inspiration. This “eggplant mash” recipe pays homage to my mother’s eggplant parm by taking some of the same ingredients and combining them in a different way – a much lighter way!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
Serving size: ½ cup
1 medium eggplant
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato sauce (store-bought or see below for recipe)
1/8 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut the stem off the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Then cut diagonal lines in the flesh, creating a diamond pattern.
3. Brush the eggplant flesh using 2 teaspoons olive oil and place it face down on a baking sheet.
4. Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the skin looks collapsed and the flesh is easily mashed with a fork.
5. Let the eggplant cool enough to handle and roughly chop into pieces (it should be mushy). The skin is rich in antioxidants, -but if you prefer to eat without it, scoop the flesh out of the peel.
6. In a sauté pan, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat.
7. Add garlic and sauté until soft (do not let brown).
8. Add the eggplant and use a fork or wooden spoon to mash it in the pan.
9. Lower the heat, add the tomato sauce, breadcrumbs and cheese and stir. Cook until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
10. Serve warm or cold with pasta, spaghetti squash, crackers, as crostini or by itself as a side dish.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 126; Total fat: 7 grams; Saturated fat: 1 gram; Cholesterol: 2 milligrams; Sodium: 309 milligrams; Carbohydrate: 16 grams; Fiber: 6 grams; Protein 3 grams
Quick Tomato Sauce
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Yield: 2 ½ – 3 cups
Serving size: ½ cup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the tomatoes with juice and use an immersion blender or food processor to puree until onions and tomatoes are blended, until smooth or desired chunkiness . Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
4. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
5. Add the fresh basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition Information (per serving): Calories: 58; Total fat: 3 grams; Saturated fat: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 158 milligrams; Carbohydrate: 8 grams; Fiber: 2 grams; Protein 2 grams