With swimsuit season fast approaching, the beau and I have decided to take dieting a little more seriously. Portions will be smaller and pasta, potatoes, and rice will be taking a backseat to heaping helpings of veggies. That also means “Wing Wednesday” will be on hiatus for a while.
In case you haven’t already heard of “Meatless Monday”, it’s not something I invented. “Meatless Monday” is a movement geared towards encouraging people to forego at least one meat-centered meal a week. It’s by no means meant to convert anyone to vegetarianism, rather, it’s to expose people to the health and global benefits of a diet more evenly balanced between meat and plants. See the video below to learn a little more about it or visit the Meatless Monday website:
I’ve taken the Meatless Monday pledge and will be consciously planning one or two meals a week that don’t involve meat. And because I believe in the movement, I’ve decided to spread the word and feature Meatless Monday meal options from now on. This week’s featured dish: Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo. The recipe is featured in the May 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.
Eggplant Parmesan with Parsley Orzo
- 1 cup uncooked orzo pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour *
- 1 teaspoon water
- 2 large eggs *
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs *
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano *
- 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
- Cooking spray
- 6 ounces part skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced or shredded *
- 1 15 oz. can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes *
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
* I took liberties with the original recipe. See original recipe here.
- Arrange oven rack 10 inches below broiler element. Preheat broiler to high.
- Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and return to pan. Add parsley, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss.
- While orzo cooks, cut top and bottom off eggplant. Partially peel eggplant lengthwise with a vegetable peeler, leaving long purple stripes. Cut eggplant crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine 1 teaspoon water and eggs in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Combine panko, oregano, and Parmigiano-Reggiano in another shallow dish.
- Dredge eggplant in flour, dip in egg mixture, and dredge in panko mixture, gently pressing mixture to adhere. Arrange on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of eggplant slices with cooking spray.
- Broil 3-4 minutes on each side or until browned and tender but firm. Top evenly with diced tomatoes and mozzarella; broil 1 minute or until cheese melts and begins to browns.
- Arrange 1/2 cup orzo mixture on each plates; top each serving with 2-3 eggplant slices. Sprinkle evenly with pepper.
If you’re wondering how I managed to get the cheese to melt in a perfect little circle on each slice of eggplant: I bought sliced mozzarella cheese from the grocery store and used a large circular cookie cutter to cut out circles of cheese. I figured it’d be more aesthetically pleasing that way. It’s still got nothing on the perfection photographed by the Cooking Light professionals, though. So to do the dish justice I made sure to include the photo from the magazine. Bon appétit!