Thursday, April 18, 2013

3 - Layer Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan
I just love eggplant parmesan, but I don't always love the process. By frying the pieces of eggplant, it can get messy as well as being less then healthy for you. I was taught about 20 years ago by an Italian lady from New York how to make the perfect eggplant and it was just that.... perfect. However, these days I'd like to make healthier versions of my favorite full fat meals and so this time, I took some of her recipe and and modified it to make a healthy, delicious baked version of her eggplant parmesan.

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/4″ thick (12 slices total)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning
1 jar marinara or other meat free pasta sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil
cooking spray
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Sprinkle some salt on both sides of each slice of eggplant. Let the eggplant sit on a plate for 30 minutes. After that, you'll see water beads forming and the eggplant will be tender. Rinse well with cold water to remove salt and blot dry with paper towels.
Beat the eggs and place in a coating tray. Mix the bread crumbs, panko and Mrs. Dash in another coating tray.
Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in the bread crumb mix. Press the eggplant slice into the crumb mix to evenly cover the slice. Place the slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet and lightly spray tops of breaded eggplant with cooking spray. 
Bake for 10 minutes then carefully flip each slice and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned and crunchy.  Remove from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
In a round 8 inch baking dish, spread just enough pasta sauce to cover bottom of dish. I used about 3/4 cup of sauce.  Add the chopped garlic to the bottom spreading evenly over the sauce. Gotta have that fresh garlic!!  Place a single layer of 4 eggplant slices in the sauce. Cover each slice with a spoon full of pasta sauce, a slice or two of mozzarella, and then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Repeat for two more layers.

If you like a lot of sauce, pour the leftover marinara and  around edges of eggplant slices.  Top with the remaining mozzarella.  

Bake, uncovered,  in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serves 4.
Baked not fried and I noticed no difference with the exception of the oil being missing. But that's a good thing in this case! The eggplant was cooked perfectly and was packed full of flavor and with the light breading, it was a delight to eat! Plus, the breading stayed crispy on the eggplant even after baking.  Served with a side of lightly buttered angel hair pasta loaded with garlic, parsley and crushed red pepper, it made a heavenly Italian dish. This is perfect for meat lovers and vegetarians alike.
Check out all the delicious layers! Perfect for those meatless Monday's! 
For nutrition information, click the Magic button below
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