Here at our women's weight loss program tucked in the Green Mountains of Vermont, there are quite a few fan favorites among our healthy recipes for which Chef Jon and I are constantly getting recipe requests. This eggplant entree is always among them. Eggplant parm is one of those awesome meals that features a great vegetable, but seems so decadent, thanks to all that wonderful cheese. Yes, yes, we fry the eggplant, but we do it with a lot less breading than you might find in your favorite pizzeria's version of this recipe – we even do a gluten free version – but I doubt that once the eggplant is doused in tomato sauce and cheese, you'll miss that breading at all. Who said healthy weight loss foods can't be sinfully delicious?
Eggplant Parmesan – 4 servings
1 large eggplant
2 teaspoons salt
enough all-purpose flour OR rice flour to dredge the eggplant
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
2/3 cup part skim mozarella cheese
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, basil, and/or oregano (optional)
one 16 ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce
Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. (We recommend leaving the skin on for nutritional value, but you can remove it if you must.) Lay the slices out on a clean work surface and sprinkle them with the salt. Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.
In the meantime, pour about 1/4 inch of oil into a flat, heavy bottomed pan. Place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on to medium high. Allow to get hot before proceeding with cooking the eggplant.
While the olive oil is heating, dredge the eggplant in the all-purpose or rice flour. Shake the eggplant slices to remove the excess flour before placing them carefully in the hot oil. Brown on each side, then remove to a wire rack that is above a pan or casserole dish to catch any draining oil. Allow to cool.
In a mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, half of the mozzarella, the parmesan, and the fresh herbs. In a casserole dish, or in individual ceramic "boat" dishes, spoon out half of the tomato sauce, then place a layer of eggplant, then half the cheese mix, then another layer of eggplant, then the rest of the cheese mix, then the last layer of eggplant, then the remaining marinara sauce. At this point, the eggplant parmesan can be refrigerated for later baking.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Bake the eggplant for 30 minutes, then top with the remaining mozzarella cheese and finish in the oven until the cheese is melty and starting to brown just a bit. Add a serving of whole grain foccacia and a side salad for a delectably balanced meal. Mangia bene!
Do you avoid foods like eggplant because they upset your stomach? Our new Food as Medicine program can help you uncover the roots of your stomach discomfort, as well as myriad other health issues. And FYI, this healthy recipe is divine with zucchini substituted for the eggplant.