My boyfriend loves Italian food like chicken parmesan and fettuccine alfredo. We also know how bad these foods can be for you if you eat them often. I decided to make a healthier version of chicken parmesan and pasta by substituting eggplant for chicken, and adding chicken sausage and kale to the fettuccine and skipping the alfredo sauce completely.

Eggplant Parmesan, or any type of ____ Parmesan is composed of the protein or vegetable battered and fried, then baked with layers of mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato sauce. It’s almost impossible for this dish to taste bad with the cooking process and ingredients! If you mess up on one area of cooking, there are other areas that you can work on to fix the dish, and that’s why I love making anything Parmesan.

To start the dish, eggplant slices are sprinkled with salt, and placed over a colander for 30 minutes until the moisture is released from the eggplant. Releasing the water from eggplants will help the overall dish be firm and not soggy.

While the eggplant is draining, the tomato sauce is made. Instead of using olive oil to fry up the garlic, I used 1 chopped up slice of bacon to render up some bacon fat, and cooked the garlic until golden.

Next, hand crushed canned whole tomatoes and fresh basil leaves are added to the pan along with salt and pepper, hot chile flakes, and simmered for 30 minutes until thick. The recipe called for fresh peeled tomatoes, but I found canned whole tomatoes a good fast substitute.

The tomato sauce is set aside until ready to use. After the eggplant slices are drained, they are patted dry on paper towels. An inch of oil is heated in a large pan, and the egg plants are ready to be battered and fried. First they are dusted in flour, shaking off the excess when you are done.

Then the flour dusted eggplant slices takes a dip in an egg bath.

Then the egg covered eggplants are battered with panko crust, shaking off the excess.

All the eggplant slices are battered and placed in a pan until ready to be fried.

The eggplant slices are fried in the pan with the heated oil until brown on both sides.

When ready to assemble the eggplant parmesan, a layer of tomato sauce is placed on the bottom of a baking dish, then a third of the eggplants are layered on top of the tomato sauce.

Then a a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese is layered on top of the eggplants, and the process is repeated twice. The eggplant parmesan is baked in a 375F degree oven for 40 minutes until the cheese is brown on top.

For the Fettuccine, Kale is chopped and cooked in a boiling pot of water for 6 minutes and drained.

Some chicken sausage is browned in a pan, and the kale added to the sausage.

Then chicken broth is added to loosen up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and cooked fettuccine is added to the pan with kale and sausage.

The dish is finished up with some shaved pecorino cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Eggplant-Parmesan-109739f
Fettuccine with Sausage and Kale: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Fettuccine-with-Sausage-and-Kale-233976

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