ahhh school lunches...

Well, it's that time of year again: time to start thinking about what I will pack for my school lunches--and Ms. Whatsit has given me a perfect excuse to talk about it with her 2nd Teacher's Potluck Carnival! I've varied through the years--for awhile I was bringing yogurt to school and mixing it with berries and cereal, then I went the PB&J on crackers route, but I finally decided I needed something "big" for lunch to make it through the day (my prep is in the morning so from 11ish until 3pm I'm operating on whatever I've already managed to eat--I occasionally get cranky ;) ). I started making "month" long supplies of bigger dishes (burritos, pasta dishes, stews) that I could stuff in single serve containers and freeze. What is my favorite recipe? Eggplant Parmesan! This recipe has stood me in good stead for several reasons. First, it's not all that difficult to make. Second, because you bake the eggplant, instead of frying it, it's really not that bad for you (well, except for the massive amounts of cheese). Third, it freezes really, really well. The changes I've made to the recipe include adding quite a bit more oregano, quite a bit of fresh basil, and using freshly roasted tomatoes in addition to the canned. It "ups" the taste quite a bit--I also use real eggs instead of egg substitute. If your family prefers milder food, just try the recipe "as is" first and then spice it up as you like. I found the recipe on some sort of "light" cooking show a few years ago--unfortunately, I forgot to write down where! But it still tastes great! Happy eating!

Eggplant Parmesean

1 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 medium eggplant, sliced into 6 (1/2-inch) rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and then minced
1 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place bread crumbs on a shallow plate. Pour egg substitute onto another shallow plate. Place a wire rack on top of a cookie sheet. Take a round of eggplant, dip it into the egg substitute until fully covered, and then drag through the bread crumbs until completely coated; transfer to a wire rack. Repeat for each round of eggplant and then bake in oven for 15 minutes.

While eggplant is baking, heat olive oil in a 5-quart nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the chili flakes and stir to incorporate. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to blend completely. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the basil, and remove from heat.

Remove eggplant from oven and leave oven at 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a medium-sized casserole dish (about 13 by 11 inches) with the eggplant rounds. Pour the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Top with the cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is soft and bubbly. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.