Whether you eat meat or not, there’s one thing some of us agree on … that we could eat less of it. I first heard of Meatless Monday from my friend Tal Ronnen, who Oprah touts as the best vegan chef in the world. Tal, who used to eat meat, would like to revolutionize the way the world experiences meatless food with his book, The Conscious Cook. He’s not a proponent of eliminating meat from our diets, just eating less, less often.
For a meatless meal, try this light and healthy version of the Italian classic, Eggplant Parmesan. The eggplant is broiled instead of fried, the breadcrumbs are sprinkled between layers of vegetables instead of as a heavy breading, there’s a lot less cheese than traditional versions, and best of all, the kids love it. Assemble it on a leisurely Sunday afternoon and pop it in the oven for dinner on Monday.
1 pound globe eggplant, sliced ¼ inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil; use more, depending on taste
1 ½ cups Italian breadcrumbs
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
3 large red tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
Fresh basil leaves, cut in ribbons
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to broil. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and broil, flipping once, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until soft and golden brown. Drizzle a little olive oil across the bottom of a 13×9-inch baking pan. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and ladle enough tomato sauce to cover. Add alternate layers of eggplant, sliced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bread crumbs, basil and Parmesan cheese until the final layer is a half inch below the rim of the baking pan. Finish with a layer of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Bake for 40 minutes at 350, or until bubbling hot.
To raise Ben and Nick with a healthy perspective of their plates and planet, we’re teaching them that when vegetables are picked and cooked just right, they can be as savory as steak and as sweet as candy. This giant zucchini made Ben a bit of a folk hero amongst his second grade peers when he plucked it from the vine on a school farm trip … yes there are farms close to LA … you just have to endure the freeways en route.
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