My cousin Tracie, who has pretty much always been hilarious and a little off-her-rocker, told us that whenever a telemarketer would call her in the evening when it was time for supper she would usually scare them off by saying (in a slow, monotone), “I like cheese….do you like cheese?” in response to any of their sales pitches. My mom, sister, and I being the cheese eaters we are found it hilarious; it was an instant running joke overnight and has been for the past 15 years. Some times I’ll just send Mom or my sis a text: “…I like cheese; do you like cheese?”
We don’t like telemarketers, but we ALL like cheese. Aside from folks who can’t eat dairy, I don’t think I’ve met a single human who doesn’t salivate over something cheesy. The problem, though, is that cheese doesn’t like us. It’s fatty and filled with cholesterol. A 1 inch cube (read: one of many bites of cheese we could eat when we snack) has 8% of our daily value of cholesterol. I’m not saying we should cut cheese out of diets entirely–life would be just too sad, but it wouldn’t hurt to skip the cheese here and there.
Last night, I made Eggplant Un-Parmesan (from Mark Bittman), a dish normally made with lots of cheese (duh, it’s in the name). I only made a couple tweaks: I added some red pepper flakes to the sauce to give it a little kick, and I added a pinch of sugar to the tomato sauce because my canned tomatoes were a little sour tasting. If you’re feeling lazy, use your favorite jarred sauce, though, homemade sauce is much better and only takes 20 or 30 minutes.
As skeptical as I was, I didn’t miss the Parmesan in the dish at all; the flavor of the sauce and the fresh basil were perfect, and the breadcrumbs on top gave it a nice crunch. No cheese necessary. Serve it with a green salad or a piece of crusty bread. Or both.
Your tastebuds and your heart will thank you.