Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cookbook Thursday: Kid Chef Eliana cooks healthy

            Last year we wrote about Kid Chef Eliana of New Orleans, a pint-sized cook with an already enormous career. The teenager has been selected for the “Top 40 Under 40” by Gambit Weekly and named one of the 10 Most Famous Kid Critics and Cooks by The Daily Meal and Fox News. She has a global weekly radio show titled “Cool Kids Cook” on the VoiceAmerica Kids network and her debut cookbook, “Cool Kids Cook: Louisiana” has been published by Pelican Publishing with help from Dianne de las Cases, an award-winning author who also happens to be her mom.
            Chef Eliana now has a new book out with Pelican, “Cool Kids Cook: Fresh and Fit” which teaches young cooks how to make healthy meals and offers 26 easy-to-follow recipes. The book is illustrated by Soleil Lisette, Chef Eliana’s big sister. Talk about a talented family!
            Here’s a handy recipe for eggplant lasagna, “a fantastic family meal that is healthy and tasty,” Chef Eliana writes. “It’s just like regular lasagna, except it’s better for you.”

Eggplant Lasagna
From “Cool Kids Cook: Fresh and Fit”
Salt to Taste
2 large eggplants, sliced ¼” thick
1 cup soffritto
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
2 cups twenty-minute tomato sauce
3 cups fresh baby spinach
2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
5 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups Parmasan cheese, grated, divided
4 egg whites
            Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly salt eggplant slices on both sides and let sit 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, sauté soffritto in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add ground turkey; brown the meat. Add seasoning salt and mix thoroughly. Add tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add spinach and cook until completely wilted. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese and egg whites. In a 9-inch x 12-inch greased casserole dish, spread a layer of sauce over the bottom of the pan. Layer eggplant over sauce. Spread some of the cheese mixture on top of eggplant. Spread a layer of sauce over cheese. Continue layering eggplant, cheese, and sauce until dish is full. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese on top, cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

 Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.