Meaty Meatless Eggplant Parmesan

21 Aug

Eggplants are an interesting vegetable.  Large and deep purple with a spongy flesh that is virtually inedible raw but becomes tender and meaty when cooked.  E’s uncle lives on a farm and grows a variety of vegetables for personal consumption.  Earlier this week he surprised us with two gorgeous eggplants from his garden, along with a handful of cherry tomatoes.

With two eggplants in hand, the first thing that came to mind was Eggplant Parmesan.  I’ve never made the dish before but I sifted through my cookbooks and found a couple of recipes: one was lengthy and involved salting the eggplant then allowing it to sit for 45 minutes.  The other was very straightforward: no salting, relatively few ingredients, and it was much healthier.  Can you guess which one I made?

As an aside, I did a bit of research just to be sure that I wasn’t sabotaging my dish by omitting the salting step.  Adding salt to the eggplant removes bitterness and was a step in traditional recipes because earlier strains of the vegetable were much more bitter than our current strains.  According to the wise Wikipedia, most modern varieties of eggplant do not need this treatment.  Phew.

The Eggplant Parmesan was super flavourful and, in the words of meat-eater E, was very satisfying despite being a vegetarian dish.  Pair this with a healthy Caesar Salad (more on that another day) and you have yourself a balanced meal.  As an added bonus, the leftovers were phenomenal the day after!

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan  (from Crazy Plates)

1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs (preferably whole wheat)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried basil
4 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds),
unpeeled and each sliced crosswise into 8 rounds
cooking spray
3 cups low-fat tomato sauce
(use one that you like– the tomato sauce dominates in flavour.  I used slightly less than the amount called for and there still seemed to be a bit too much sauce)
1 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 oz)
2 tbsp chopped, fresh parsley

  1. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, and basil.  Mix well.
  2. In another shallow bowl, lightly beat together egg whites and salt.  Working one at a time, dip eggplant slices into egg whites, then into crumb mixture.  Turn to coat both sides with crumbs. Place slices on 1 large or 2 small baking sheets that have been sprayed with non-stick spray.
  3. Spray tops of slices lightly with cooking spray.  Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes. Remove eggplant slices from the oven, turn them over, and spray again with cooking spray.  Return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes.
  4. To assemble casserole, spoon 1 cup tomato sauce over bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish.  Top with 1/2 eggplant slices.  Spoon another 1 cup tomato sauce over eggplant, followed by 1/2 mozzarella.  Repeat layering with remaining eggplant slices, sauce, and mozzarella.  Sprinkle parsley over top.
  5. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until cheese is completely melted and sauce is bubbly.  Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 260 kcal, 6 g fat, 6.4 g fibre

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2 Responses to “Meaty Meatless Eggplant Parmesan”

  1. Lisa August 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    I must admit, I was a bit sceptical trying the whole wheat bread crumbs, more specifically, serving that to my first generation Italian-American mother! She was suspicious at first, and to my delight, loved it! Kids loved it as well!

    • lisa August 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

      I’m thrilled to hear that! Thanks for the feedback, Lisa. You’ve made my day!

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