"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing..." -Helen Keller
 
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Project for the next few weeks: casseroles. Casseroles. That word sounds so old woman-ly, but I like it; it also sounds so American. I think there's a little piece of old woman in me, and a whole lot of American, so the project is set. (Side note: In fact, I'm quite excited to be an old woman some day... making casseroles, drinking tea with my friends, reading mysteries, knitting, and watching Hallmark channel movies doesn't sound so bad.)

Dreams of aging aside, my first project in the casserole series was eggplant parmesan.

Ingredients:
1 T. sugar
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano
about 24 small-medium tomatoes (though 4-8oz. cans of tomato sauce, a can of whole tomatoes (chopped), and a bit of tomato paste would have done the job)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb. of eggplant
1/4 c. water
3 egg whites
1 1/4 c. breadcrumbs
2 T. Italian seasoning
1/3 c. Parmesan cheese
2 c. mozzarella cheese, ideally; I used the only option we've got: a package of low-fat cheese singles

First I chopped up 4 large eggplants; 3 would have been more than plenty; 2 might have sufficed. I chopped them to be about 1/4 inch wide. I placed them in a bowl, added water, and soaked them for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, I combined the first 5 ingredients above to make a sauce. I brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered for about 30 more minutes.

In 2 small bowls, I used the water and egg whites to make a mixture, then I used the parmesan, breadcrumbs, and Italian seasoning to make another mixture. After the eggplant slices had soaked, I dipped them in the first bowl, dredged them in the mixture in the second, and placed them on a tinfoil-lined baking sheet. Then I broiled them for about 5 minutes per tray (I ended up with 3 small trays of slices, which was way too many... I guess I wasn't sure how much eggplant was "2 pounds" as the original recipe suggested.)
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Then came the easy part; I just layered the sauce into a 13x9 pan, then a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of cheese, repeated the layering steps once, covered it with tinfoil, and finally baked it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. In my opinion, it could have used to be baked about 10-15 minutes longer for more tender eggplant, but what do I know?

I served it with some asparagus and whole wheat pasta.
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