Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seasonal Cooking

As I become more interested in cooking, and also better at it, I'm getting into using seasonal ingredients. Honestly, they just taste SO much better! Ever had a grapefruit in July? Ew. Or peach that's been flown in from heaven knows where in November? Plus, it's much more economical to purchase produce when it's in season.

On Sunday, I rode my new bike to our local Farmer's Market and bought tomatoes, eggplants, and peaches. I made eggplant parmesan last night, and I'm excited to share the recipe with you. I wanted to make a healthier version. I work out so hard and try to keep my diet healthy (I splurge on weekends!). I just don't see the point in completely "blowing it" on some eggplant parmesan (I'd prefer to do that with a big, juicy burger). Especially because eggplant is a very healthy vegetable.

I found this recipe from Martha Stewart:

Serves 4
1 large eggplant (2 pounds), sliced 1/2 inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup fat-free (skim) milk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup homemade or best-quality store-bought marinara sauce
1/2 cup grated part-skim mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange eggplant on two rimmed baking sheets. Brush eggplant on both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until golden brown and very tender, 20 to 25 minutes, turning slices and rotating sheets halfway through.

Meanwhile, make sauce: Off heat, in a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup milk, flour, and garlic. Gradually whisk in remaining 3/4 cup milk and 1/2 cup marinara sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cook until pink sauce has thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Spread cup marinara sauce in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Alternate layers of baked eggplant with pink sauce. Dollop with remaining cup marinara sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake on upper rack until browned and bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes.
Read more at Lighter Eggplant Parmesan and more delicious recipes, smart cooking tips, and video demonstrations on

I always buy low fat cheese for dishes like this, because I can never taste the difference. Fat free is cheese, however, is really gross. We've also recently switched to organic milk, eggs, chicken, and most produce. I can't even tell you how much tastier I find the organic milk! I actually drink a couple glasses a day. I never, ever did this by choice in the past.

The chicken decision stems from a conversation my husband had with an acquaintance of his who owns a meat market in Detroit's Eastern Market. He explained that he does not feed his children regular chicken because companies like Ty*son use so many hormones that the time between the chicken laying her egg, and slaughter is something like 14 weeks! I was very disgusted by this bit of info, as was B, so we decided to make the switch. I buy organic produce when it's items like lettuce, strawberries, or peaches. Things with thin skin. Also, when the price difference isn't too great.

I don't know if there is medical evidence to suggest that consuming so many hormones (like in chicken and milk) lead to ovarian cysts (like endometriosis, which I have), but I doubt cutting that out of my diet will hurt anything.


Cool Gal said...

I bought some eggplant yesterday at the Farmer's Market and was going to make some Eggplant Parm, too. Instead of my recipe, I am going to be making yours. It sounds so good!

By the way, I've made your rhubarb bread quite a few times. Sooo delicious! A big hit with the family!

Hope all is going well. :)

Randall @ Happy For This Moment said...

Yum, sounds delish. I love how I can smell the local peaches at my farmers market from several feet away - they're ready to be enjoyed!

Suburban Princess said...

There are lots of organic farmers out there now and it is getting less and less expensive - I just wrote a bit about it the other day :O)

Organic meats are very important as well at meat biproducts like dairy - I find it odd that no one will report the real reason 7 year old girls are going into puberty when they have been guzzling milk based on what drs have told their mothers from the day they turned 1.

Freck said...

I love supporting local farmers markets, good for you for getting the freshest of the fresh, too! :) This recipe looks so yummy, too!

Always Organizing said...

I am so with you about organic products!!! All of those chemicals are not natural for our bodies. I so agree with Suburban Princess' point about young girls entering puberty sooner and the connection to hormone filled products that they are consuming.

The Preppy Princess said...

We're with you on the fat-free cheese being pretty nasty! This looks really good, and the Lobster recipe earlier this week was killer!

Thank you for sharing all of these!

Miss Happy said...

I was just handed a bag of organic basil and tomatoes from a city garden in Philly. Its silly how excited I am :)