Sunday, March 6, 2011

Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

If you're not interested in a healthy version, my usual fried version can be found here.

This was kind of a science experiment of a dish. I wasn't sure what would or wouldn't work, but I'm happy to report that it turned out well enough to share with you guys!

I started with my usual way of doing things, and made some healthy substitutions along the way, both in the ingredients and cooking methods used.

3 medium to large eggplants
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1 24 oz. jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cup low fat mozzarella
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Begin by washing and slicing your eggplant in 1/4" thick pieces. Lay out on baking dishes and sprinkle with Kosher salt to draw out some of the moisture.

While the eggplant sits, combine the flours, salt, and pepper in a large, flat Tupperware style container. In another large, flat container, whisk together the eggs, skim milk, salt, and pepper.

Use a few paper towels to firmly pat down the eggplant, grabbing any excess moisture that has been drawn out. (I only did one side because I'm lazy.) Preheat the oven to 375°.

Start your assembly line, which will go like this: a feather light dusting of the flour mixture on the eggplant, a dunk into the egg mixture, and another feather light coating of the flour mixture. Lay the battered eggplant pieces on a greased baking pan. Pop the pan in the oven, and continue with the eggplant pieces until all are battered, on a sheet, and in the oven. Each pan should bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the eggplant has softened and the batter is browned (at least on the bottom).

Mix the jar of sauce with the water to thin it out a little bit (helps with easier spreading). Grab a very large casserole dish and spread the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Remove the first pan of eggplant put in the oven. Lay the pieces out in the casserole dish. Pour 1/3 of the remaining sauce overtop, 1/2 cup mozzarella, and a few Tbsp of the Parmesan. Remove the second pan of eggplant put in the oven, and repeat the process. Finally, remove the last pan of eggplant from the oven and lower the temperature to 300°. Repeat the layering process, omitting the cheese, using your spatula to firmly press down the layers. Pop back into the oven, covered for 30-45 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Remove the foil, sprinkle the last of the cheese, and finish under the broiler.

Serves 5-6. Reheats well. You can also assemble and freeze the dish before baking. When ready to bake, just thaw and bake until the sauce is bubbling.

I'm not going to lie, this is a tedious dish to make, with a lot of hands-on time. It took me about an hour and a half from washing the eggplant to popping the assembled casserole into the oven for the final bake. I personally love the battered eggplant, but if the coating isn't your thing, you could certainly skip the battering steps and just roast slices of eggplant and make the dish the same way from that point on.

It's definitely worth the effort, though!


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy said...

I have never made this but SOOOOO want to! It looks wonderful, thanks!

Eden said...

I know, I made this once in culinary school and it is rather tedious. So high five for the work. But heres a secret, Trader Joe's makes an excellent one that reheats in under three minuets. I'm a terrible chef for recommending frozen entrees.

Christina said...

@Eden - haha! I never thought of TJ's frozen entrees. I've tried a few before and they are usually pretty tasty. But I often run into the whey problem w/ pre-packaged meals, which J is allergic too. :(

Errign said...

I adore eggplant parm, but I've always been scared to make my own. I'm always worried that the eggplant will be undercooked and chewy instead of soft and a little crispy on the outside like it should be!

Biz said...

I am not a fan of eggplant, but truth be told, I haven't tried it in YEARS!

Do you have to peel the skin, or do you leave it on?

Christina said...

@Errign, the eggplant usually is cooked twice - either fried or baked, and then bakes awhile in all the sauce and everything, so it'll get cooked all the way!

@Biz, I make it either way. This particular one I left the peel on. A lot of ppl think the peel is "bitter" so it's really up to personal preference whether or not you leave it on. Me and J like it, so I'm lax about it!

Roz said...

Hi Christina. OMG...this looks SOOOO good. My husband HATES eggplant, so not sure if I'll give it a go soon, but when I'm cooking Italian for a few people, I'm going to try it then. Thanks for sharing. said...

I LOVE eggplant parmesan and just posted my baked version on my blog. I can't believe it's so popular! I'm so happy people are trying eggplant....