Looking for a delicious, but healthy alternative to chicken parmesan? Give this chicken and eggplant casserole a shot. I adapted the recipe from one in The South Beach Cookbook. It offers lots of Italian flavor, and also lots of veggies! Actually, it’s very similar to a dish I often order at Four Brothers Restaurant. It’s perfect for a chilly afternoon when you just want to sit back in your home theater chairs (well, or more likey curl up on your couch) and watch a marathon of all the “Godfather” movies.
Chicken & Eggplant Casserole
1 boneless chicken breast (2 breast halves), chopped into .5-inch pieces
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onions (I cheated and used frozen)
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
non-stick cooking spray
Slice eggplant into 12 rounds and arrange on non-stick baking sheet. Spray with non-stick spray, sprinkle with garlic powder, and broil for 2 min. or until golden. Turn rounds over, spray with non-stick spray and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Broil addition 1-2 minutes and set aside. Meanwhile, coat chicken pieces with breadcrumbs and saute in olive oil until cooked through. Add can of diced tomatoes (including liquid), mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and Italian seasoning. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 min.
Arrange 6 slices of eggplant on the bottom of an 8×8 baking dish. (I chose a small Italian eggplant, so I had a few more slices. Also, since it was only me eating this last night I made myself a small dish and then made one to freeze)
Top with half of chicken mixture. Layer the other 6 slices of eggplant and the rest of the chicken mixture. Top with mozzarella cheese. Bake for 30 minutes at 350-degrees until heated through and cheese is bubbly. (To heat frozen casserole, cook for 50 minutes at 375-degrees.)
If you are planning on freezing this, here are some tips
1) When freezing something like a casserole (or lasagna, or enchiladas — anything that needs to hold its shape), line your baking dish with foil, making sure there is enough to fold over and cover the food. Then, add a layer of plastic wrap. Assemble your casserole in the dish, and let it cool:
2) Once the casserole is cool, cover the food with the plastic wrap, trying to trap as little air as possible. Fold tin foil over as well, making sure everything is covered. Stick the entire dish into the freezer for 1-2 hours to “flash freeze”:
3) Once the meal is frozen, remove it from the baking dish and pop it into a freezer bag. Label with the name of the dish, the date it was made, and cooking instructions, then pop it back in your freezer:
This way, your baking dishes are always free and it saves space. You also don’t have to deal with the flimsy aluminum baking trays (personally I can’t stand those). If you’re cooking food for someone who just had a baby, is going through a rough time, or had a loved one pass away, this is a great method for freezing too because the recipient doesn’t have to worry about returning the dish. When you’re ready to eat the meal, just let it thaw slightly and it should easily remove from the plastic wrap. Pop in back into a baking dish and heat as instructed.