Monday, December 10, 2018

Healthy BAKED Eggplant Parmesan

This post is written on behalf of Cello Cheese. All opinions are mine alone. #CelloMusicToYourMouth

Single serve variation of the traditional Italian Eggplant Parmesan; this recipe has the same flavors but super quick and easy to make!  

I cannot believe we are zooming towards 2019! I am already planning how to celebrate Christmas and bring in the New Year. This year my party will feature some yummy recipes and I am sure this is something I am making! 

Eggplants; the vegetable that some folks love in any form and some hate it completely. If you have some one who is not a fan; read on and you might just be able to convert them to LOVE eggplants.

Italian cuisine has a TON of delicious recipes from soups, salads and pastas to super amazing desserts. For the longest time I would order a pasta dish off the menu at any Italian Restaurant and make some kind of pasta with sauce for parties. One day I discovered Eggplant Parmesan and there is no way it was getting out of my mind! 

I have tried various variations of the Eggplant Parmesan and I must say; this recipe has been my favorite! Stacks of eggplants, rolls of eggplant or a casserole made from a lot of slices have been the ones I have tried. But this recipe of BAKED Eggplant parmesan is the best. 

What makes this recipe the BEST?

This recipe of Eggplant Parmesan yields SUPER crisp eggplants without a lot of effort or add ins. Plus; it freezes beautifully and comes handy for weeknight dinners. Another advantage is that it can be scaled up or down effortlessly! A great recipe for parties too, this Eggplant Parmesan is perfect as a make-ahead appetizer or dinner dish. 

All the ingredients here are easy to find and most people might have them in the pantry. All it needs is Eggplants (of course!), breadcrumbs, marinara sauce and good quality Parmesan cheese! 

I have tried several cheese brands for this recipe and more. As the recipe name suggests; this one has to have a good tasting Parmesan to make the recipe PERFECT. My latest find has been Cello Artisan Parmesan Cheese from Sprouts. It is also available at Shop-Rite. Aged 12 months, this cheese has bold, nutty flavors with notes of crushed apple. This cheese is delicious and is a great addition to your Holiday table as is or in your favorite recipe. 

A PERFECT make-ahead recipe that is great for freezing 

My favorite part about this recipe is how easily it can be made earlier and used enjoyed in a few minutes for dinner or as an appetizer. 

The recipe below mentions all the steps of making it. Once the rounds have been drained, coated in breadcrumbs and baked; they can be cooled completely and frozen on a cookie tray. Once frozen, they rounds can be transferred to a bag and kept frozen. 

When ready to serve, remove the frozen rounds and bake them with marinara and cheese. No need to thaw them; this recipe helps make dinner super quick and easy! 


I used a large eggplant and sliced it with the skin. There is really no right or wrong thickness of the slices or if the skin should be kept on or removed. It depends on what you like. My experience with the recipe is that the skin helps bind the eggplant without becoming mushy. But it is entirely up to you.

Here I have used regular breadcrumbs and seasoned them with dried oregano. Using Italian breadcrumbs is a great idea too. A lot of folks prefer panko but they are best suited for deep frying. baking them does not always result in crisp coating, so I stay away from that. 

If you would like a super thick coating of crumbs on the eggplant, either double coat the slices with cornstarch and breadcrumbs or use egg instead of cornstarch. Both methods help achieve a thicker coat of breadcrumbs. 


Eggplant 1 medium sliced into 1/2 inch slices
Breadcrumbs 1/2 cup
Oregano 1 tsp
Corn Starch 2 tbsp
Marinara Sauce 1/2 cup (homemade/store bought)
Olive Oil/ non-stick spray as required
Cello Parmesan Cheese 1/2 cup, shredded
Salt as required


In a bowl add the eggplant slices and sprinkle salt. Mix well so that the slices are coated. Place the slices on a wire rack and let the moisture drain out for an hour or so.

Once the slices are a little dry, preheat the oven to 425 F. In a bowl mix together corn starch and 2 tbsp water. In another bowl mix together breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp salt and oregano. 

Pat the eggplant slices on a paper towel. Dip a slice in the cornstarch mixture and coat using breadcrumbs. 

Press well and transfer to a parchment lined baking tray. Repeat for all the slices. Spray non stick spray or spread olive oil on the slices.

Bake the slices for 18-20 minutes, turning them over once mid way. Once the slices have brown dots and the crumbs are baked; remove and set aside. 

When ready to serve, add 2 tbsp of Marinara sauce on each eggplant and sprinkle parmesan cheese. 

Bake the rounds in a preheated oven at 425 F for 8-10 minutes. Remove and serve over a bed of marinara sauce. I love to sprinkle some extra Cello parmesan cheese on top. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Instant Pot Chole Recipe

Restaurant style Indian Chole recipe; garbanzo beans cooked in tomato onion curry. The recipe that takes super long on stove top can be made easily in the Instant Pot!  

Chole or Chickpea curry is one of the most popular Indian curries. A super versatile curry that pairs brilliantly with breads, samosa or rice; chana masala is commonly found in Indian restaurants, events and parties! 

The curry is popular by a variety of names and many styles of making it. With variations like no tomato version to boiling the beans with tea bags to get a dark color; every household has their own recipe for chana masala. And not to forget, some places call it call it chole, some chana masala and some Pindi chana.  

I have tried several versions in restaurants across India and US. Here in the US there are a few Indian and Pakistani restaurants that make Chole really well. Served with a variety of breads; my favorite remains kulcha. Soft bread that pairs perfectly with chole; this combination is super popular across India.

The secret to make restaurant style chole is pretty simple. A couple of essential ingredients make all the difference. And the most important thing is patience. Soaking, boiling and simmering the chole in onion tomato curry yields the best chole. 

However, sometimes we are in a rush and need a quick yet authentic recipe. The Instant Pot comes handy for those situation! It can be used to replicate the taste of slow simmering in spices. And once you are hooked on to this version, it is difficult to go back to the older recipe; I promise!  

Why use the Instant Pot to make Chole?

The method I used to make Chana masala or Chole for so long was soaking the chana overnight or atleast 12 hours, boiling it in the pressure cooker and mixing it with a tomato onion gravy. While the Instant pot method is similar, now soaking is not a necessity.

If chole is not soaked, it can still be made in the Instant Pot. Here is how:
  • In the base of the Instant Pot add 1 cup water. Place the trivet and keep it ready. In a heat resistant bowl add 1 cup dry chole, 2 cups water and 1 tsp salt. Place the bowl on the trivet and close the lid.
  • Set the mode to 'Pressure Cook', time to 5 minutes and pressure to high. Close the lid and move the valve to sealing. Let the chole cook. Once the Instant Pot beeps let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Then move the valve to venting and release the remaining pressure. Open the Instant Pot and remove the container.

Here are a few more Instant Pot recipes that you must try. And before you get there, here are a few ACCESSORIES that are great for the recipe! 
Love Instant Pot recipes? Head here to see all the wonderful recipes from bloggers and food lovers!
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In this recipe I used tomatoes for the sour taste. However, there are a couple of variations possible. Amchur powder is a commonly used powder in the recipe and the other options include tamarind and anardana powder.

Here I added minimum spices like cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves only. The rest of the flavor comes from the Chole Masala. However, if you do not like to stock your pantry with every kind of masala; just add garam masala and some peppercorns and cardamom. It gives a great taste for sure! 

If you would rather use canned garbanzo beans for the recipe; it works too. Just drain the chickpeas and follow the recipe. Just adjust the time to 12 minutes and reduce water to 1 cup.  


Chickpeas 1 cup soaked overnight or cooked as explained above
Onion 1 cup, diced
Tomatoes 1 1/2 cup, pureed
Ginger 1 inch piece, grated
Garlic 1-2 pods, minced
Cinnamon 1 inch piece
Cloves 2-3
Amchur Powder  1/4 tsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Lime Juice 1/2 tsp
Chopped onion and cilantro to top


Add oil to the insert of the Instant Pot and set mode to 'Sauté' and normal. Once the display reads 'hot', add cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves. Once they are aromatic, add garlic and ginger. Sauté till it is flavorful and add onion. Mix well and cook till the onions are soft. It takes about 6-7 minutes. 

Next add salt, chole masala, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Mix well and cook for a few seconds. Deglaze by adding 2-3 tbsp water. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Let the mixture cook for 7-8 minutes till it is bubbling. 

Add in the chole and 2 cups water. Mix well. Close the lid, press 'Cancel' and press 'Pressure Cook'. Set pressure to high and time to 15 minutes and move the valve to sealing.

Once the Instant Pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure manually and open the Instant Pot. Add lime juice, amchur powder and adjust the consistency by adding water if required. 

Serve topped with chopped onions and cilantro. Chole is amazing with bhature, puri, roti, kulcha or rice.