Backyard-To-Table Eggplant Parmesan and Healthier "Fried" Okra
We hear a lot about the Farm to Table Movement and I love it! I love the idea of using fresh, locally grown ingredients in the food I cook for my family. At my house, it gets even closer to home. I call it Backyard To Table! I love going out to my garden and picking fresh vegetables and using them in the dishes I prepare. The summer is full of recipes using homegrown tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumber, peppers, okra, eggplant and beans. I have shared some of those recipes and now I want to share two that I make quite often and they are both crowd pleasers; Eggplant parmesan and my healthier version of fried okra. Both are super easy to prepare. If you have a garden,or if you don't and just want to try these, I think you are going to enjoy them. The eggplant is a staple in a vegetarian diet, but anyone can enjoy it prepared in so many ways. It is a "meaty" vegetable. When I have eggplant parmesan, I don't miss having meat at all. The okra recipe is so easy and quick, you will make this a lot. It is lighter than traditional fried okra because this recipe literally uses very little olive oil and just a dusting of bread crumbs. It is prepared in literally a couple of minutes so it can be made right at the last minute before dinner. Nothing is better than this okra as a side for whatever you have prepared as an entree, with maybe a slice or two of a homegrown tomato! Hope you try these delicious ways to take advantage of fresh summer produce!
You will need:
1 eggplant, peeled and sliced in 1/2 inch slices
1 egg, beaten in shallow bowl
1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan
fresh mozzarella sliced thin
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp olive oil (depending on the size of the eggplant)
Fresh basil leaves sliced thin for garnish
Preheat oven to 375. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Start with 1 Tbsp and add later if you need it. Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, and salt in a shallow bowl. Dip each slice of eggplant in the egg and then transfer each to the bread crumb mixture, lightly coating both sides. Place all of the slices in the hot oil in the skillet on medium-high heat. Let it brown on one side, then turn to brown the other side. Transfer to a baking dish. Top each slice of eggplant with marinara sauce. (See my recipe for marinara with the Chicken Parmesan on my blog). Heat in oven for about 10 minutes. Top each slice with a thin slice of mozzarella. Place back in the oven until the cheese starts to brown. I served this on zucchini noodles. (My recipe for the zucchini noodles is also with the Chicken Parmesan recipe on my blog). Garnish with the basil. This is just so delicious! Hope you enjoy it!
Healthier "Fried" Okra
If you love fried okra, but don't want all the breading and oil, this is going to be quite a surprise! It really is so easy and cooks so fast, you will be making this a lot, especially if you grow it.
All you need:
Fresh okra with ends cut off, sliced in 1/2 slices
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp Italian bread crumbs (Depending on the amount of okra)
1 Tbsp or so of grated parmesan
salt to taste
Heat the oil in a skillet or saute pan. All you need is enough oil just to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the okra to the hot pan. Saute the okra for just a couple of minutes till it is tender. This will not take long at all. Salt to taste. Very lightly dust the okra with bread crumbs and give it a toss. Remove the okra and place it on a plate lined with a paper towel. I lightly sprinkle it with parmesan cheese. This is optional, but it tastes delicious! That is it! If you try okra this way, you will never go to the trouble of breading and frying it in a lot of oil again! Enjoy!