May 10, 2011

Greek Eggplant and Chicken Casserole

I have a ton of recipes saved in my email, sent from friends or ones that I email myself from different websites. Unfortunately, I never remember that they are there waiting for me. I swear my memory has gone completely down the tubes...I blame the kids. Anyway, I was looking for something the other day and I finally stumbled upon my email folder with all these yummy-sounding recipes, some of which I discovered are over a year old. Sheesh! I need to look at that email folder more often, that's for sure. Anyway, this casserole was from a Weight Watchers recipe collection email that Claire had sent me a few months ago. There were quite a few casseroles on the list that I wanted to try, but this one intrigued me the most. It is very similar to a lasagna, using eggplant instead of noodles. I think this may be one of my new favorite ways to have eggplant; it was delicious! We steamed some broccoli for a side item, and this dinner basically disappeared. Everyone loved it!

Greek Eggplant and Chicken Casserole
Adapted from:

olive oil cooking spray
2 medium raw eggplant, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
3/4 tsp table salt
1 pound(s) uncooked extra lean ground chicken breast
1 cup(s) onion(s), sliced
4 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
2 Tbsp parsley, fresh, chopped
1/3 tsp dried parsley
1/3 tsp chives or minced onions, dried
1/3 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp canned tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Grated Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 cup of reduced-fat 2% sharp cheddar cheese,grated

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle with 3/4 teaspoon of salt; let stand 20 minutes to draw out moisture.

Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 3 minutes more. Add fresh parsley, dried herbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste; stir to coat. Cook until herbs and spices are fragrant. about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

Off heat, coat surface of same skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Wipe salt from eggplant slices with paper towel and add eggplant to hot skillet. Cook, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.

Arrange half of eggplant slices on bottom of prepared baking pan, slightly overlapping pieces to cover entire surface of pan. Top eggplant with 1/2 of the chicken mixture; top with 1/2 of the amount of grated Parmesan cheese. Top with remaining eggplant slices and the remaining chicken mixture. Top with the 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and the remaining grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake until top is golden brown and filling is hot, about 30 minutes. Let stand 5-10 minutes, slice into 8 pieces and serve.

The Result:
This took a little while to pull together, but it was worth it. My whole family loved it; especially my kids. This casserole tasted like a great compromise between a standard lasagna and a Greek moussaka. Really, it was the best of both worlds. I love that it was healthy, but still so flavorful and satisfying. Yum! I am really looking forward to these leftovers.

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