Eggplant Parmesan

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Contributing Writer
Vicki McGraw
Elegant Edibles Catering

There are many times of the year and more specifically, days of the year that are synonymous with specific foods. To many, New Year’s Day means pork and sauerkraut (for good luck, of course), we just enjoyed our corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day, hot dogs and apple pie on July 4th, turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving, the list goes on and on! This being said, there are also times of year when we think of what we should not eat!

We have just entered the Christian season of Lent, a period of 40 days leading up to Easter, when those of the Catholic faith do not eat meat on Fridays. Now mind you, I grew up in the United Methodist Church, so this wasn’t an issue in our household. What I knew of the practice I had learned through friends who were growing up in Catholic households. It didn’t make much of a difference to me; I just knew they always seemed to eat tuna sandwiches and PBJ’s on Fridays in the spring! It didn’t affect me directly, so I didn’t put much thought into it. That is, until I became a caterer!

As a caterer, it is my job to be aware of potential menu issues for my clients…do we need to think about any vegetarians in the group? Does anyone we are serving have gluten or allergy issues? This also means I need to keep things like Ash Wednesday and the Lenten season-meaning meatless Fridays- in mind when helping clients choose appropriate menus for their events. If the menu is meat based, we need to be sure to have meatless offerings available! I will be the first to admit, sometimes the season sneaks up on me! I may have to scramble to make changes at the last minute, but I always do my best to keep on top of such things!

For some people (like my boys!), the idea of meals that do not involve a big hunk of meat may not be very appealing. This is a knee jerk reaction, however, because we can create some really terrific alternatives to meat laden meals.

The WNY tradition of “Fish-fry Fridays” is especially popular this time of year, but we can enjoy other meatless meals, as well. Are you a lover of chicken parmesan? Simply swap the out the chicken with eggplant! ln the mood for a burger? A marinated, grilled Portobello mushroom on a fresh Kaiser roll with all the usual burger toppings is a really tasty substitute. Like lasagna? Veggie lasagna is great, but if you really want “meat” in it, how about using a vegetarian meat substitute? There are really tasty vegetarian and vegan substitutes available. They can usually be found in the produce or frozen food departments of your favorite supermarket. If you want to go the seafood route, but fried haddock or cod is the only thing that comes to mind, think again! Salmon, tilapia, mahi-mahi, scrod, and of course, shrimp, crab and lobster are wonderful seafood options! Scan the fresh seafood as well as the frozen seafood departments in the supermarkets; frequently they will offer recipes for dishes using the varieties that are on sale that week.

As you can see, the meatless alternatives are varied…and delicious! It doesn’t take a lot of effort to go meatless, whether it is done for religious or dietary needs. This week I encourage you to step outside of your normal routine and try a meatless Monday (or Friday!) Bon appetite!


Eggplant Parmesan

  • 2 large eggplant
  • 3 beaten eggs
  • 1 c flour
  • 2 c bread crumbs, seasoned to taste
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 large jar marinara sauce
  • 1 lb grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1 c grated parmesan cheese

Slice eggplant into ½ inch thick slices. Sprinkle the slices lightly with salt and set aside for 5-10 minutes. Dredge sliced eggplant in flour then beaten eggs, then in bread crumbs mixed with ½ C parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 450*. Let cool slightly.

Pour ½ jar of sauce into a 9×13 pan. Shingle layer eggplant and top with remaining sauce and mozzarella cheese; sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 40 minutes at 375*, let stand 10 minutes before serving.


To read more of Vicki McGraw’s commentaries on good cooking, fine recipes and perfect party treats, visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on Join Me in the Kitchen’s own page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.