Almost by definition, Parmesan dishes - as in eggplant Parmesan or chicken Parmesan - are fat bombs.
That's probably because nearly every step of the recipe seems almost designed to infuse the meal with as much fat as possible. Coat the eggplant or chicken in egg. Bread it. Fry it. Drown it in oil-laden sauce. Then, of course, top it with loads of cheese.
No wonder they taste so good.
But surely there's a way to enjoy these classics without all the fat. But enjoy is the key. There are plenty of light versions that either shortchange the cheese or substitute it with anemic fat-free versions.
Which is why Cooking Light's version in the magazine's recent "Cooking Light Italian" (Oxmoor House, 2006, $17.95) is such a winner. This recipe cut the fat by using an egg white instead of a whole egg, as well as fat-free sauce.
Those savings, as well as cutting down on the amount of fat used to fry, mean real cheese can be used elsewhere (Parmesan in the breading and provolone over the top). And that makes all the difference.
Herbed chicken parmesan
1 1/3 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 pound chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups bottled fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup shredded provolone cheese
Preheat the broiler.
In a shallow dish, combine 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan with the breadcrumbs, parsley, basil and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Place the egg white in a second shallow dish.
Dip each chicken tender in the egg white, then dredge through the breadcrumb mixture.
In a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken and cook 3 minutes per side, or until done. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the remaining salt with the pasta sauce, vinegar and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving one side loose to vent. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until thoroughly heated.
Pour the sauce over the chicken in the pan. Sprinkle evenly with provolone and remaining Parmesan. Broil 2 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
Start to finish: 25 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
Source: Cooking Light magazine's "Cooking Light Italian," (Oxmoor House, 2006, $17.95)