Recipe: Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

img_6379Why do cooks take the beautiful, innocent, healthy eggplant and turn it into a fat-laden, calorie bomb?  Look no further than this Healthier Eggplant Parmesan recipe.  The secret is the fresh basil bursting with flavor…. and baking the eggplant slices coated in panko…. but, you can see for yourself!

Healthier Eggplant Parmesan

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 (1-pound) eggplants, peeled and cut into ½-inch thick slices
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • ½ – 3/4 cup torn fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, to taste)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 24-oz jar favorite marinara sauce
  • Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray baking sheet and 9×13-inch glass baking dish with cooking oil spray.

To make eggplant, place 2 beaten eggs in a shallow dish. Combine panko and ¼ cup parmesan cheese in a second shallow dish. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then dredge in panko-cheese mixture.  Place eggplant on baking sheets.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden, turning once after 15 minutes.

While eggplant is baking, combine basil, 1 cup parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper and garlic in a medium bowl.

To assemble, spoon ½ cup marinara sauce in bottom of a 9×13-inch glass baking dish. Layer half of the eggplant slices over the pasta sauce. Sprinkle eggplant with salt.  Top with about ¾ cup marinara sauce.  Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of the cheese-basil mixture on top.  Repeat layers once, ending with ¾ cup marinara sauce.

Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining parmesan cheese.  Bake another 10 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.  Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Here’s the beautiful finished product…. soooo delicious and comforting!

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About a week later, I had 6 eggplant (!) from a gigantic haul from Produce on Wheels – Without Waste, a program from the Borderlands Food Bank.  (Check out their program – it is amazing & well recognized!)

I spent some extra weekend hours making 2 large batches of this recipe.  Off to my freezer these beautiful dinners went to save for a busy weeknight or a meal for a friend needing some help…. new baby, hospitalization/illness, or something like that.  This would make a fantastic holiday season meal, too!  Definitely worth the efforts!

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Author: drjennbowersnutrition

Dr. Bowers is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with 25 years of experience in clinical nutrition, education and health promotion. Her down-to-earth philosophy is "All foods can fit!"

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