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Stack it up: layer polenta and sauce for easy eggplant parmesan. (Food: Weeknight).

Most people think eggplant parmesan is a labor-intensive, multistep dish. These quick stacks of roasted eggplant slices and purchased cooked polenta dispel the image; our twist on the classic dish includes tomato sauce and mozzarella for a full helping of savory Italian flavor, but we've cut the long preparation time and the heavy dose of oil and cheese. With a salad and a simple dessert, this is a weeknight menu com brio.

Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 35 minutes

NOTES: Look for tubes of cooked polenta in the supermarket refrigerator case; they are often stocked near the cheese.

MAKES: 4 servings
 1 eggplant (1 lb.)
 1 tube (1 lb.) cooked polenta (see notes)
 Olive oil cooking spray
 1 onion (8 oz.), peeled and chopped
 2 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed or minced
 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
 1 can (14 oz.) tomato puree
 Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (6 oz.)
 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
 4 fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)
 8 to 12 breadsticks (2 to 3 oz. total)

1. Rinse eggplant and trim off and discard both ends. Cut eggplant crosswise into 8 equally thick slices. Cut polenta crosswise into 8 equal rounds. Lightly coat a 14- by 17-inch baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Arrange eggplant and polenta slices in a single layer on sheet. Lightly coat tops of slices with more cooking spray.

2. Bake in a 425[degrees] regular or convection oven until eggplant is soft when pressed and polenta is heated through (cut to test), 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in an 8- to 10-inch nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, stir onion, garlic, and basil occasionally until onion is lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add tomato puree and 1/4 cup water; simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended, 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm over low heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is done.

4. When eggplant is soft, sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheeses equally over eggplant and polenta. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes.

5. On each of four dinner plates, place 1 eggplant slice (use largest slices first) and drizzle with 1 tablespoon sauce; top with 1 polenta slice and 1 tablespoon sauce. Repeat until all slices are used. If desired, garnish each stack with rosemary sprig. Spoon remaining sauce around base of eggplant stacks. Serve with breadsticks.

Per serving: 376 cal., 26% (99 cat.) from fat; 20 g protein; 11 g fat (5.8 g sat.); 49 g carbo (6.9 g fiber); 1,017 mg sodium; 30 mg chol.

Escarole Salad with Olives

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 15 minutes

NOTES: If escarole is unavailable, use another salad green, such as arugula, endive, or lettuce.

MAKES: 4 servings

In a bowl, mix 2 quarts bite-size pieces rinsed and crisped escarole (12 oz.; see notes) with 1/4 cup pitted calamata olives, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and 1 clove garlic, peeled and pressed or minced. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 101 cal., 84% (85 cal.) from fat; 1.1 g protein; 9.4 g fat (1.39 sat.); 4.3 g carbo (2.1 g fiber); 171 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipe
Author:Anusasananan, Linda Lau
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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