Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is amazing, but if you bread and fry your eggplant before layering it with tomato sauce and huge amounts of cheese, it’s not as healthy as it could be. Why not find a way to cut down on the fat without compromising the taste of this classic?

That is what I set out to do this week, as I had a beautiful little eggplant from my CSA share begging to be eaten. I also had fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic from my share, so I decided to make a fresh tomato sauce. When I realized how the sauce and eggplant could be paired, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind!

I didn’t have bread crumbs and was weary of improvising with oats or another type of grain, so I forewent that step altogether. As a result, this eggplant parmesan doesn’t have the usual slight crunch you might expect. However, I made up for the lack of crumbs by making a ginormous batch of roasted garlic and using the mashed up, sweetened cloves as a delicious layer in between my eggplant slices. The taste is out of this world, and the consistency of the mash is similar to soft cheese, so I was able to skip that extra cheese as well.

To be perfectly honest, there ended up being quite a bit of oil in the recipe because of the roasted garlic and the tomato sauce. However, olive oil is still healthier than most other types of fat, including cheese, so I think it still comes out on top health-wise. Plus, I didn’t need to use any extra oil on the eggplant since it was already in other layers of the recipe. I cut down on the cheese, only using fresh grated parmesan on the topmost layer. Overall, this recipe is definitely a healthy version of the original dish, and I like it more anyway! The garlic mash mixed in with the sauce and made it creamy, the eggplant was melt-in-your-mouth good, and the cheese topped it all off marvelously. I had seconds.

I also love that, besides the olive oil, pepper, and cheese, this recipe was made exclusively from CSA veggies, and I could tell. There is something to be said about local and organic vegetables — the closer from home they grow, the better they taste!

There it is, fresh out of the oven! (It bubbled over a little bit...)

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium eggplant
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup mashed roasted garlic (about 2 heads of garlic needed)
a small bunch of fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup grated parmesan
fresh cracked pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 350º.

2. Prepare your roasted garlic by following these instructions. Once cool, mash the garlic with a fork until smooth and blended.

3. Prepare your tomato sauce according to this recipe while the garlic is roasting, or use a prepared tomato sauce.

4. Once your garlic mash and tomato sauce are ready, wash and slice your eggplant into slices about 1/2 an inch thick. Grate your parmesan.

5. To prepare the dish, first pour approximately 1/2 a cup of tomato sauce into the bottom of the dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant over it. Cut a few slices of eggplant into quarters and use the smaller pieces to fill up gaps between the larger slices. Then, spread about half the garlic mash over the eggplant. Cover with 3/4 cups of tomato sauce. Then, place a layer of whole basil leaves on the sauce. Top with the second layer of eggplant and the rest of the garlic mash. Pour the rest of the sauce over the dish, then sprinkle the parmesan evenly on top of the sauce and crack some fresh black pepper over that.

6. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese has browned.

7. Allow the eggplant parmesan to rest for about 10 minutes before serving. This will allow it to set a bit and keep its shape when you cut into it. Top with more fresh pepper and serve with a side salad.

Doesn't that look amazing? Minus the part where it fell apart... I couldn't follow my own instructions and let it sit for long enough. Oops!

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