Eggplant parmesan and I have had a long love-hate relationship. I rarely order it in restaurants any more because it’s usually the heavily-breaded, deep-fried eggplant smothered in cheese that I detest. Over the years, I’ve experimented at home to arrive at a version that is lower calorie, lower in fat, and less cheesy to please my picky palate. Baking the eggplant rather than frying it is the ticket and this is about as low calorie as you can make this traditional Italian dish without sacrificing taste.
Eggplant Parmesan “My Way”
Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil in the traditional preparation, so I brush them with olive oil and bake them instead!
2 med. eggplants, cut into ½” rounds
2-3 T. extra virgin olive oil
½ t. Cajun spice (optional)
Italian-style bread crumbs
Purchased spaghetti sauce
8 oz. thinly sliced mozzarella
½ c. grated parmesan
Sprinkle both sides with salt and place between paper towels. This draws out the moisture and any bitterness – leave them for about 30 min.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush both sides of the eggplant rounds with olive oil. (I put a dash of Cajun spice because I like a little more zip in about everything.) Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake, turning once, until the eggplant is softened and golden brown, about 30 minutes total. (Remember, they get baked again.)
In a 9½” x 13” baking dish, spread spaghetti sauce to cover bottom of dish, cover with first layer of eggplant,
then layer mozzarella on top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Dot cheese with sauce and repeat with another layer of eggplant, mozzarella, grated parmesan and sauce. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes until cheese is bubbly. (You may put it under the broiler to brown, but watch carefully!)
Do as the Italians do and enjoy with a bottle of Chianti Classico!