Really, there is hardly anything better in the world than Eggplant Parmesan. If you’ve never cooked with eggplant, I urge you to try this very simple recipe. Even my kids ate it. Even the neighbor kid ate it! And it’s great for filling people up without meat. I think I found it on a recipe card several years ago, but a Google search showed me that it is a Food Network recipe. So credit to Juan-Carlos Cruz (

eggplant parm

Eggplant Parmesan

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.

Gluten-Free Vegan Quinoa Chili?

So I volunteered to make a main dish for my daughter’s teachers’ monthly luncheon/treat. One of the teachers requires gluten-free food, and no one had signed up for that spot. I’ve never cooked gluten-free before, but how hard could it be?

Searching for recipes on Pinterest, I found one for “The Best Ever Quinoa Chili (vegan and gluten-free).” Now I happen to know that another one or two of the teachers are vegetarians, so thought this might kill two birds with one stone. Of course, the gluten-free gal is a full on carnivore, but, hey, one dish can only meet so many needs. And I’ve been meaning to try quinoa.

I was caught by surprise while shopping for ingredients. Had to be choosy on brands of diced tomatoes, for instance. Some had garlic powder, I think, and therefore, gluten. And my grocery did not carry a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce, so I left it out. Bet I could have found it at the health food store, but no time. A few ingredients were pricey: over $5 for the box of quinoa, though it was enough for a double batch. And over $4 for ground chili chipotle, but I’ll use that for other dishes. And, of course, I had to buy organic beans to make sure they were vegetarian.

As I described this experiment to my sister (the gourmand) over the phone, she started laughing. “What’s so funny about quinoa chili?” I demanded.

“I just hope it tastes good,” she worried. “You don’t want to ruin your reputation.”

Ha! I happen to know from experience that hungry people at work enjoy food that arrives, unbidden and free, regardless of how experimental or vegan it might be.

And. . . it was good! Well, I liked it anyway. I used yellow, orange, and red peppers, and, combined with the quinoa, they gave it a great texture that I enjoyed more than ground beef.  And beef production is bad for the planet, anyway. So there. Try it if you dare.


Thanks to Sarah at Making Thyme for Health for the recipe: