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Crispy Eggplant with Penne Pasta and Garlic Tomato Sauce. (Linda Gassenheimer/TNS)

I was surprised to find crispy eggplant on the menu of an Irish pub. It wasn’t the usual pub food.

The crisp topping and creamy inside made a great vegetarian entrée. Here it’s served with pasta mixed with a garlicky tomato sauce.

This meal takes under 15 minutes to make with the help of a microwave oven. The pasta boils for 8 minutes while you are making the eggplant.

Look for eggplants that are firm without a wrinkled skin.

SHOPPING LIST: To buy: 1 pound eggplant, 1 box penne pasta, 1 small can tomato paste, 1/4 pound grape tomatoes, 1 container minced garlic, 1 small piece Parmesan cheese, 1 container panko breadcrumbs, and 1 bunch basil. Staples: olive oil, vegetable oil spray, egg, salt and black peppercorns.

Crispy Eggplant

  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil spray.

Wash eggplant, do not peel. Cut into 1-inch slices (about 6 slices). Place on a plate in one layer and microwave 2 minutes. The center should be soft. Add 1 more minute if needed.

Break up egg in a bowl. Mix Parmesan cheese and panko breadcrumbs together on a plate. Add salt and pepper to taste. Dip eggplant slices into the egg and then press one side into the Parmesan mixture. Press the mixture into the eggplant with the back of a spoon. Place the slice on the baking sheet breadcrumb side up.

Place the baking sheet under the broiler about 5 inches from the heat. Broil 1 minute and check to make sure the topping is golden. Leave another minute if needed, but watch to see that the topping does not burn. Remove from oven and divide slices between 2 dinner plates.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 341 calories (44% from fat), 16.5 g fat (5.2 g saturated, 5.9 g monounsaturated), 109 mg cholesterol, 14.6 g protein, 35.5 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 599 mg sodium.

Penne Pasta and Garlic Tomato Sauce

  • 1/4 pound penne pasta (about 1-1/2 cups) or any type of short-cut pasta
  • 1/4 pound grape tomatoes (about 12)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (see note)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves (torn into small pieces)

Note: Two tablespoons of tomato paste are needed. Freeze extra for another time.

Place large saucepan three-quarters filled with water on to boil. When it comes to the boil, add pasta. Boil 8 minutes. Place tomatoes and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high 1 minute. Tomatoes will be broken and give off their juice. Microwave another 30 seconds if needed. Stir in olive oil and tomato paste. Add basil and toss to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain pasta and toss with tomato mixture.

Makes 2 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 299 calories (24% from fat), 7.8 g fat (1.2 g saturated, 3.4 g monounsaturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 8.9 g protein, 48.9 g carbohydrates, 3.3 g fiber, 16 mg sodium.

Quick Fix is a Tribune News Service column from Linda Gassenheimer. She is the author, most recently, of “The 12-Week Diabetes Cookbook,” “Delicious One-Pot Dishes” and “Quick and Easy Chicken.” Her website is dinnerinminutes.com. Follow her on Twitter @lgassenheimer. Email: linda@dinnerinminutes.com.

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