About these ads
RSS Feed

Category Archives: Italian

Chocolate Italian Love Cake


I made this for our Valentine’s Day dessert because 1) it’s “Italian” (I put that in quotations because honestly, I think the only reason it’s called “Italian” is because there is ricotta cheese in it), so I thought it would go well with our Spaghetti & Meatballs, and 2) it’s a Love Cake, therefore perfect for Valentine’s Day. :)  However, I’m sharing this with you today, a regular non-Hallmark holiday day, because it’s simply a fantastic cake that should be enjoyed and made for those you love on any old day, not just days designated for celebrating your loved ones.

This cake is every bit as good as it looks.  I don’t like ricotta because of the texture, but it really works with this cake.  It’s not a heavy cake, which is dangerous, because it’s also addictive and the “lightness” makes it easier to trick yourself into thinking that eating half the pan by yourself isn’t all that obscene.  Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chocolate Italian Love Cake

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 package chocolate cake mix (I recommend using Betty Crocker brand), and the ingredients needed to make the cake according to the package directions

  • OR your favorite chocolate cake recipe that makes as much batter as a cake mix

2 lbs. ricotta cheese
4 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (5.9 oz.) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped topping, defrosted

Preheat your oven to 350*F and spray a 9×13 inch pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together your cake mix according to the directions on the box or prepare your favorite chocolate cake.  Spread into prepared pan and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the ricotta cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Carefully pour the ricotta mixture over the cake batter, trying to get it evenly distributed, then spread it as best you can over the cake batter with a spatula. The layers will switch during baking!

Bake the cake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Once the cake is cool, whisk the pudding mix and milk together until smooth and slightly thickened. Gently fold the whipped topping into the pudding until incorporated. Spread the pudding mixture over the top of the cooled cake. Do not spread it over the cake if it’s even slightly warm or it will melt and ruin the topping. Cover the cake and refrigerate at least 6 hours before serving. It tastes even better the next day.

Veronica’s notes: 1) I do not recommend my favorite chocolate cake for this recipe as it makes a lot more batter than a box mix and your pan would probably overflow if you tried it. 2) I have a stack of 9×13 baking dishes because I use that size more than any other. My largest one is a Pyrex dish and I highly recommend you use your largest one too – preferrably a Pyrex dish because they seem to be the largest.  I know every 9×13 dish should measure 9×13 but apparently they do not…or maybe some companies measure from the inside and some from the outside.  This recipe fills it up to the top so you really need to use a large dish.  3) If you live in an area that sells 5.1 ounce pudding mixes, that’s fine – it’s the size called for in the original recipe. You only need a cup of milk if you have a 5.1 ounce box, according to the original recipe. 4) I know ricotta can be expensive so if you have an Aldi in your area – go see if they sell ricotta there. Mine sells it for $1.68 for a pound. It’s also good quality! And get some pumpkin puree while you’re there – it’s usually $1 (or less) for a can and is very good quality. :)

Recipe source: adapted from Chew Nibble Nosh

About these ads

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Posted on

I went through a comfort food phase last month  where, despite the heat, all I wanted were piping hot casseroles and soups.  Plain Chicken to the rescue, yet again!  This is one of the things which satisfied my craving for comfort food.  I resisted every temptation to change the recipe, except for using reduced fat cream cheese in place of regular, and while I will say there are some things I’d do different next time (as noted below), this was just so stinkin’ good.  Creamy pasta, topped with an easy meat sauce and Parmesan cheese. Just. so. good.

Baked Cream Cheese Spaghetti Casserole

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

12 oz spaghetti
1 (28 oz) jar prepared spaghetti sauce
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 clove garlic, minced
8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.

In a skillet, brown the ground beef until cooked through; drain fat and stir in spaghetti sauce. Set aside.

Cook spaghetti according to directions on packet. Drain and place cooked spaghetti in bowl. Add cream cheese, Italian Seasoning and minced garlic. Stir until cream cheese is melted and the spaghetti is thoroughly coated.

Lightly grease a 9×13″ pan. Spread a small amount of meat sauce in the bottom of the dish. Put spaghetti on top of sauce and top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes, until bubbly.

*Veronica’s note: I would suggest covering your dish with foil while baking to prevent the cheese and spaghetti drying out like mine did. Also, you might reserve some pasta water to add in when you mix in the cream cheese – it is quite thick and dry and I think some extra moisture would make it creamier. I also plan to use more sauce next time – maybe up to even two jars.  What can I say, I like the sauce. :)

Recipe source: Plain Chicken

Healthier Lasagna Soup

Posted on

If you haven’t seen recipes for lasagna soup all over the web for the last couple years, then you don’t follow as many blogs as I do-lol!  It is everywhere.  It’s taking over the blogging world.  If it wasn’t so delicious, it might scare me a little, but now that I’ve made it I totally get it.

Everyone has their own variation and I just took the one from Suzie’s blog and made it a little healthier.  I have to tell you that Biz is actually the reason I finally made this soup because I think she’s made it (and raved about it) 55.7 times since Suzie posted it and I just couldn’t resist any longer.

So glad I gave in–this soup is completely frabrilis!  I mean hello, lasagna in soup form?  Frabrilosity! 

P.S. A lot of things went wrong with my pictures and I do not care to explain the unattractive, cold plops of cheese and how thick this is because you would scoff at me and I’m not in the mood for your scoffing beyond the scoffing you’re doing at my cheese plops.  :D  Just follow my directions and you will have frabrilis soup that looks as delicious as it tastes.

Healthier Lasagna Soup

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (19.5 oz) package lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. broken up whole wheat lasagna noodles or other pasta of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy goodness:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet along with the onions and cook, breaking up into bite-size pieces, for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Don’t over cook or let soup simmer too long, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the broth.*

While pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy goodness by combining the cottage cheese or ricotta and Parmesan together in a small bowl. To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

*Note: If you are anticipating leftovers, it’s best to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bowl along with the soup, then store them separately, drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick together.  They will become mushy if stored in the broth.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Two Dogs in the Kitchen.

Penne alla Boscaiola {Lumberjack Mushroom Penne} & a Giveaway!

Posted on

A while back I was contacted by Ginny of Cooking With Chopin to participate in a blog tour for the A Family Farm In Tuscany cookbook (her mother published the book!).  I agreed because 1) I love Italian food, and 2) I love free stuff and I would get a free cookbook if I participated.  Just keepin’ it real, people.  If you like free stuff too, keep reading because you’ll have a chance to win a copy for yourself!

Photo by Dario Fusar, Organic Gardening

This is a beautiful softcover cookbook by Sarah Fioroni that follows the activities on her family’s farm in Tuscany throughout a typical year, such as making prosciutto in January & harvesting saffron in November, and of course there are recipes for each month that include seasonal ingredients. This is more than a cookbook, it is the story of Sarah’s heritage and daily life on Fattoria Poggio Alloro (Laurel Hill Farm), and she includes many simple, delicious recipes that her family makes every day.

Photo by Oriano Stefan

I’m usually drawn to cookbooks that feature colorful photos of the finished dishes, and that was my only  disappointment with this one.  The book is filled with colorful, stunning photos featuring the family, the farm & monthly activities on it, along with a smattering of food photos. However, the more I looked through the cookbook, the less I cared about the meager food photos.  I often read cookbooks like novels, and this one you actually can read like a book, as the stories shared in it flow along with the recipes from month to month.

I’ve been thumbing through this cookbook for several weeks and the longer I have it, the more I love it.  The recipes are simple everyday recipes, which isn’t usually what I think of in connection with Italian food.  I think of long hours in the kitchen and lots of ingredients.  But these recipes aren’t meant to impress you with their length or the time it takes to make them.  They are simple and they are good.  Make that delicious.  Everything I’ve made from the cookbook so far is just incredible.  I honestly didn’t know recipes with so few ingredients could be so good.

Take this Penne alla Boscaiola, for example.  (It isn’t a coincidence that I first chose one of the recipes that included a picture, though I have now ventured forth and tried one without a picture, the Tiramisu Poggio Alloro–do try it, it’s wonderful.)  It is so simple, calling for just a few basic ingredients and only one spice.  I did rewrite the recipe with my small changes, so I wanted to include a photo of the actual recipe so you could see what I’m talking about when I say this book is full of simple, delicious recipes.

Dennis’ reaction to this was, “This is really good.” *chew chew chew* “I mean really, really good.”  *chew chew chew* “I’m almost shocked at how good this is.”  I’m not sure if he meant my food usually isn’t this good, or he was just trying to express how incredibly delicious he found it, but either way, you get the idea of how much he enjoyed it.  This is a man that rarely comments on the taste of anything I make and I have to pull the reviews out of him like teeth.  Not this time.  And I whole-heartedly agree.  This pasta is shockingly delicious.  Shocking because it is just so simple!  How can it possibly be this good?  You’ll have to make it to believe it.  (And make it with the Green Salad from the cookbook, it is another shockingly simple & delicious recipe!)

Penne alla Boscaiola
{Lumberjack Mushroom Penne}

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1/2 of a medium red onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced*
16 oz. pork sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Italian)
1 (29 oz.) can tomato purée
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

4-6 quarts water
1 teaspoon salt
12 oz. penne pasta (I used Ronzoni Smart Taste)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Cook the onion with the olive oil in a large pot/Dutch oven over medium heat for about five minutes, until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook until cooked down and browned, about 15-20 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute, then use your hands to break the sausage into smaller chunks and add to the pot. Cook for about ten minutes, or until the sausage is cooked through. Add the tomato purée, warm water, red pepper, and salt. Simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

In another medium pot, bring water and salt to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling, add the penne pasta and stir. Return to a boil and cook until pasta is al dente, about 7 minutes, using the package instructions as a guide. Remove and drain, then add to the large pan of sauce. Stir together and serve hot, topped with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serves 6-8

*Veronica’s notes: I didn’t use fresh garlic because I didn’t realize I was going to miss it until I tasted the sauce without it, so I just added a teaspoon of garlic powder. It was wonderful this way, but I included instructions for using fresh garlic since that is more authentic and most likely would taste even better. Also, a full teaspoon of red pepper flakes did not make this spicy at all so do not fear.  Lastly, if you are like me, you will be tempted to cook the sausage separately and drain off the fat before adding it to the sauce. But if you are like me, you will resist in the spirit of authenticity and be rewarded with delicious pasta that is surprisingly grease-free. I think the mushrooms absorb the fat, because there was absolutely no grease to drain after cooking the sausage with the mushrooms. Oh well, more flavor!

Recipe source: Adapted from A Family Farm in Tuscany.

Would you like to win a copy of A Family Farm In Tuscany?  Just leave me a comment telling me your favorite Italian dish (comments without this will not be counted in the drawing).  For an extra entry, “Like” my Facebook page and leave me a separate comment letting me know you did or do.  For a third entry, you can “Like” Sarah’s Facebook page and leave a separate comment telling me you did so. Giveaway is open until Wednesday (10/31/12)  at midnight CST, and I will announce the winner on Thursday.  Winner will have 24 hours to contact me or I will choose another winner.  Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed.  Congrats to the winner, Kelly D!

Zucchini Spaghetti

Posted on

**I apologize to subscribers for the weird “password protected” post that came to your inbox or feed early this morning!  It was me just being a spaz, but I’ve got this “top secret” recipe now set to public visibility instead of password protected.  Sorry to disappoint if you thought my zucchini spaghetti recipe must contain codes to reveal a huge conspiracy theory, but I hope you’ll find the delicious recipe is quite enough to get excited about in and of itself.  :) **

Have you been wondering what ever happened to the weight loss contract and the 17 Day Diet?  Join the club–I’m wondering too! :D  We did save a good amount of money with the contract, though we only actually stuck to the agreements made in it for like a week.  And we ended up with a bunch of emergencies (car stuff, etc.) that most of the money went toward.  We did much better with the 17 Day Diet and stuck with it for over a month, but soon after got to the third 17-day cycle, which allows for a wider range of foods, we cheated our way into widening the range to all foods, and in great abundance.  Soooo, I think I lost 15 pounds and gained most of it back.  Story of my adult life.  I pretty much diet half the year so I can eat like a pig the other half.  It kind of works for me.

Anyway, this “spaghetti” was the romantic Valentine’s Day dinner I made while we were on the first cycle of the 17 Day Diet, which allows for no starches except for fruit.  The lean meats allowed are minimal as well (turkey, chicken, and fish) and I was challenged to come up with a 17 Day Diet-friendly recipe that would be really delicious and impressive.  Debbi posted her version of Kalyn’s zucchini spaghetti and I knew I had a winner.  And wow, I was right!  This was the most delicious thing we ate during the entire diet, and I would even say it’s one of the most delicious meals I’ve eaten in my entire life.  The sauce is just spectacular (it would be great on real spaghetti, too) and the zucchini is perfect here.  I always have thought zucchini was a vegetable best suited to Italian seasonings and this recipe further proves it.   I can’t even tell you how much I love this dish!

A funny thing about the “spaghetti” strands.  The only julienne slicer I could find was this one, which also has three other cutting blades.  For some reason, I didn’t look at the owners manual and thought that the crinkle cutter was the julienne blade.  I was so frustrated with the slicer, thinking that it was just a poor product, because every time I “julienned” a zucchini, I had to go back and cut the strands apart because the stupid julienning blade was just cutting crinkle-cut slabs.  DUH!  Seriously, I didn’t figure out my mistake until just this week when I finally opened the owners manual and saw that there was another blade that I had missed.  The one for julienning veggies.  DOY.

If you don’t have a julienne cutter, The Pampered Chef has a julienne peeler for $10.50 that I’d recommend–it won’t take up a lot of space and does a fabulous job of julienning your veggies.  I got one and gave the other cutter to Goodwill because, well, you guys know I don’t even have room for my cake pans in this house, so I’m  not about to give up good space for a bulky cutting tool when I could just use Pampered Chef’s fabulous peeler!  Thanks, Tracy (my Pampered Chef consultant)!

Zucchini Spaghetti

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

3 links low-fat turkey Italian sausage, hot or mild
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 large cloves of garlic, minced + 4 more to season the oil
pinch hot pepper flakes (optional)
1 (14.5 oz.) can roasted diced tomatoes with juice
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 medium sized zucchini (9-10 inches long)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste (for seasoning zucchini)
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving, if desired

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil in a heavy frying pan, then add turkey sausage, squeezed out of the links, and use a spatula to break the sausage apart and cook until it’s lightly browned, about 5 minutes. When the sausage is browned, add 3 cloves of minced garlic, and hot pepper flakes, if using. Stir together and let cook with the sausage about a minute, then add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, fennel, basil, and oregano. Turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer while you prep the zucchini.

Use a julienne cutter to cut the zucchini into long spaghetti-like strands. (Cut off the ends, wash and dry the zucchini, and then cut into julienne strands. You can also do this with a knife if you’re patient.)

Heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat in a very large frying pan, add 3 whole garlic cloves and sauté until you can start to smell garlic, then remove garlic to another dish (you can discard it, but fried garlic cloves are delicious and you can add them to salad or even eat them straight!) Immediately add the zucchini strands to the hot pan and cook stirring a few times just until the zucchini is heated through, about 2 minutes. Season the cooked zucchini with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Divide between 2-4 plates, then ladle sauce over the top. Serve hot, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Recipe source: adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen, as seen on Debbi Does Dinner

Italian Roast Beef {crockpot recipe}

Posted on

This Italian roast beef was inspired by Tami’s comment on my banana pepper roast, telling me she did the same thing but added a packet of dry Italian dressing mix, and that it made great sandwiches.  Well, I’m all about making great things better, and all about sandwiches, so I decided to try it out.  And it is even better than the banana pepper roast. And it does make killer sandwiches. Thanks, Tami!

Just as with the banana pepper roast, there is a pleasant piquant flavor from the peppers and the acid in the brine and the slow cooking makes the roast ultra-tender.  The difference is that there’s even more flavor–garlic & onion and whatever else they put in those dressing mixes.  I have tried making my own Italian dressing mix but I really want it to be exactly like the store-bought ones and so far, no luck.  If you have one that’s close please let me know! I buy at least four of those packs a month (I make our Italian dressing with them, and things like parmesan garlic chicken) and I know it would be cheaper and probably healthier to make my own.

We ate the roast straight the first day (it’s so good with mashed or baked potatoes!), then made sandwiches with the leftovers.  I’ll include my idea for sandwiches too, because it was so good!  Can you tell I thought this roast was so good? ;)

Italian Roast Beef

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 (5 lb) beef roast
1 (.7 oz) envelope dry Italian dressing mix
½ cup dehydrated red & green bell pepper (optional)
¼ cup dehydrated minced onion
1 (12 oz) jar banana pepper rings

Place beef roast in the bottom of a 6-quart crockpot. Sprinkle the dressing mix, red & green pepper (if using), and minced onion over it, then pour the jar of banana pepper rings over the top, juice and all. Cover and set to cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours.

Remove the roast onto a platter and shred with two forks. Return to the juices and mix well, then serve with mashed potatoes.

To make sandwiches, you’ll need:

Sandwich buns or rolls
Ranch dressing
Dried basil*
Italian roast beef, warmed
Fresh mozzarella or provolone cheese, thinly sliced
Tomatoes, thinly sliced
Other toppings of choice, such as shredded lettuce, sliced olives, chopped onion, etc.

To make sandwiches, split the buns and cover the insides with a generous smear of ranch dressing. Sprinkle with basil.*

*If you use fresh basil, add it along with the tomato at the end.

Doncha love those sweet Italian buns? ;)

Draining off as much juice as possible, put some roast beef on the bottom buns, then place a slice of mozzarella on top. Please slice your cheese thinner than this or you’ll have to practically burn the buns before it’s melted.  Learn from my mistakes.

Broil open-faced on high, the top buns ranch-side up, until cheese is melted, 1-2 minutes. If your cheese is thicker *ahem*, it may take up to five minutes and you will want to remove the top buns before the bottom so that they don’t burn.

Even after five minutes, the cheese was barely melted.  I have to show off the one I made when Dennis requested seconds.  I got the cheese much thinner, so it only took about a minute for it to melt and I didn’t have to remove the top bun before the bottom was done.  Look at this beautiful deliciousness!

Much better!  OK, once it’s melted, top it with a slice of tomato, another sprinkle of basil, and any other toppings you’d like.

Cover with the top bun and enjoy warm.

It’s 3 AM as I finish this blog, and I nearly forgot to do the drawing for the cookbook.  So without further ado….

Congratulations to Brandee Lake, you won P-Dub’s signed cookbook!

P.S. Some people were asking me why she’s called P-Dub.  Dude, it’s because she’s a straight up gangsta!  lol.  P is for Pioneer and Dub is short for the “double u” that Woman starts with.  And in my cousin Andrea’s comment, she gave me a gangster name so I can be hip like the Pioneer Woman.  You can now call me “V-Dawg.” My little sister gave me the name “Throwback Vrak,” which I LOVE, but that would require too much explaining in order for it to make sense.  So V-Dawg it is.  Until further notice.  Peace out, yo.

Low-Carb Eggplant Parmesan with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce & Fried Garlic {gluten-free}

Posted on

Growing up, my Mom made an eggplant dish about once a year that was basically chopped up eggplant mixed with homemade marinara sauce, garnished with Parmesan cheese.  The only way I could swallow the evil stuff was to absolutely drown it in Parmesan–I’m pretty sure I used half a bottle of the grated cheese every time she made it.  It’s not that the taste was terrible, the marinara was always good, as was the Parmesan, but the eggplant itself was spongy and a bit bitter, so I had to distract myself by making it super cheesy in order eat it.

Despite never fully enjoying this dish, I was convinced that I would enjoy eggplant if prepared differently.  I really wanted to try making eggplant Parmesan, sensing that frying eggplant and making it crispy could be the key.  But for some reason, I just never got around to it.  Probably because I had been tainted by a long history of a dish with similar elements that was always abhorrent to me.  I finally tried eggplant on a pizza (click here for the recipe: Eggplant & Olive Pizza) and then in baba ghanoush (a Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip) and discovered I was right, I did like eggplant!

Well, finally, in a lower-carbohydrate phase of our diet last month, I decided to try my hand at eggplant parmesan, using only cheese for “breading” before frying it.  It. was. fabulous.  I’m sure I’d love it with the breading as well, but this was truly delicious and in my opinion, need not be changed.  I seriously can not wait to make this again. I’m now a full-fledged eggplant convert.  They key, it seems, is not so much in the frying, which obviously doesn’t hurt, but in the salting and draining prior to cooking.  This takes away the bitterness and makes the eggplant flavor much more enjoyable.

I also want to take a moment to mention the tomato sauce, which I snagged from Jenna’s blog and kicked up a notch with fire-roasted tomatoes, and a touch of fennel seeds and red pepper flakes.  This is my most favorite marinara sauce I’ve made to date, very flavorful and a great compliment to the eggplant.  It makes a large batch, so you’ll have enough leftover to freeze for future eggplant Parmesan meals, or to ladle over pasta. It gives me such a heady feeling to know this delicious sauce is waiting for me in pre-portioned bags in the freezer, and all I have to do is defrost it in order to enjoy it again. Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Jenna!

One last note: the fried garlic is totally optional but I highly recommend you throw some cloves into the oil while you’re frying your eggplant.  I discovered that frying garlic gives the same flavor as roasting it, sweetening it and making it so delicious you can just pop the whole thing into your mouth without any of the sulphurous burning that usually accompanies such an act with raw garlic.  It is so delicious, I’ve found it to be addictive!  I ended up keeping this part of the recipe secret from my husband, who arrived after I’d eaten an entire bulb of fried garlic because I couldn’t keep my hands off of it after I popped the first clove into my mouth.  What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. :)

I’m submitting this recipe to Renee for this week’s BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient contest): Parmesan.

Low-Carb Eggplant Parmesan with Fried Garlic

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1 medium eggplant, peeled
Salt
2 eggs
¼ cup water
1 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
Garlic powder
½ cup olive or canola oil
1 bulb of garlic, peeled
1 ½ cups Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce, warmed
Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish

Peel and slice eggplant into ¼” thick slices. Sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and place in a colander set over a bowl. Allow the eggplant to drain for 30-45 minutes or until 2 tablespoons of water have been drawn out from the eggplant. Tear off three sets of two sheets of paper towels (each set of two still connected), stack together, then lay out eggplant slices on top of it. Tear off another three sets of two paper towels, lay on top of the eggplant, and press down firmly on each slice to draw out excess moisture.

In a flat-bottomed bowl large enough in diameter to fit the largest eggplant slices, whisk the eggs and water together until foamy. Put the Parmesan cheese on a plate and have your garlic powder nearby. Line a baking sheet with foil, sprinkle evenly with garlic powder, and set nearby.

Dip each eggplant slice in the egg mixture, shake off, then sprinkle both sides with Parmesan. Lay the slices on the prepared baking sheet as you finish them. Once all slices are coated, sprinkle garlic powder on top.

Heat a cast iron or other heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to cover the bottom well and come up about 1/8”. Place as many eggplant slices in the skillet as will fit, and tuck as many of the cloves of garlic in between them as you can. Fry the eggplant until the first side is golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Flip the garlic cloves when then skin is golden brown and bubbled. Once the second side is golden brown, remove to a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain. Remove the garlic as it is finished cooking as well. Continue cooking eggplant in batches until all is fried. If the first batch of eggplant has cooled too much by the time you are finished frying it all, pour out the oil in the skillet and add them back in to reheat for a minute. Alternately, as the eggplant is drained, you can add them to a foil-lined baking sheet and keep them in a warm oven until ready to serve.

To serve, arrange eggplant slices on plates with fried garlic scattered around. Scoop tomato sauce over the top and garnish with Parmesan and parsley, if desired. Serve hot.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the celery, carrot, and some salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, basil, oregano, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes, and cover the pot with a splatter screen. Turn down the heat to low, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Remove the bay leaves and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until smooth. Allow the sauce to cool completely and, if not using immediately, pour it into freezer bags in 1-2 cup portions. It will keep frozen for about 6 months.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,363 other followers

%d bloggers like this: