Who doesn't love a good Eggplant Parmesan? What about a lighter version? With all the yummy flavours of a good eggplant parmesan but without the breading and the frying? Just eggplants, tomato sauce and CHEESE!
I love a good eggplant parmesan, but what I don't love is the long process of breading and frying. I know I could bake the breaded eggplant, but it's not the same! If you know, you know. 😏
Don't get me wrong; the traditional way is tasty⏤who doesn't enjoy a good crispy and creamy eggplant bathed in a savoury tomato sauce and cheese? However, I'm always up for a lighter version of the classics, as long as it tastes just as delicious as the original. This version of a lighten-up Eggplant Parmesan will be your new favourite way to eat eggplants too. No breading, just eggplants, cheese and a garlicky marinara.
How to select an eggplant?
If you're unfamiliar with eggplants or just don't know how to select a good eggplant for this dish, don't worry, I got you on this! Look for these signs when selecting an eggplant at the grocery store:
- Dark, shiny, and smooth skin: avoid dull-looking eggplants.
- Heavy for their size and firm to the touch.
- Select smaller eggplants to avoid bitterness.
- Look at the stem! A green stem means you're getting a fresh eggplant.
Eggplant Parmesan tips
- Should you peel your eggplant? Some people believe the eggplant skin is difficult to digest and recommend removing some of the skin or all of it before cooking. However, I don't believe you should remove the skin. The skin is packed with antioxidants called nasunin, an anthocyanin found in the skin of the eggplant. Nasunin helps transport nutrients into cells and move waste out. So, I say keep the skin! or at least some of it.
- What kind of eggplant should I use for this recipe? Globe eggplant or any large-sized variety of eggplant is best for this recipe. You can use small eggplants, but you'll need more of them.
- Soak the eggplants before baking. Since there's no oil being used when baking the eggplant, I recommend soaking the eggplant in milk or almond milk. This way the eggplant slices come out of the oven soft and not dried out.
- How do you avoid bitter eggplants? When selecting your eggplant, try to select two small or medium-sized globe eggplants to avoid bitterness. The bitterness has been bred out of the plant, but the larger plants may still be bitter.
- Ricotta mixture, cream instead of eggs! Using cream instead of eggs results in a luxuriously smooth and creamy mouthfeel for the ricotta. Not the grainy texture all too familiar in most ricotta filling recipes.
More Mediterranean Dinner Recipes to Try:
- 2 medium-sized eggplants
- 2 cups of milk choose the milk of your choice for soaking (optional)
- 2 and ½ cup partly-skim mozzarella shredded
- 1 jar of your favourite marinara sauce
- 1 pkg ricotta cheese
- ½ cup parmesan grated
- ½ cup cream 10% or 18%
- ½ teaspoon salt
- If you're planning on making your own sauce instead of using store-bought, you'll need to start by making the sauce first.
- Slice the eggplants lengthwise into ¼ inch slices. Set the eggplant slices onto a baking sheet. Pour milk onto the sliced eggplant and soak for 15 minutes. (this step is optional, but it will result in creamy eggplants vs a dried eggplant⏤If you choose to opt-out of this step, just bake a little longer.)
- Preheat Oven 450ºF and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
- Remove the eggplant slices from the milk and transfer them onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through until eggplant is golden.
- Meanwhile, prepare your ricotta mixture. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add all of the ricotta mixture ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
- After 20 minutes of the eggplants baking, remove them from the oven; you may notice they're not fully cooked but slightly softened, and that's exactly what we're looking for.
- Prepare your baking dish. Pour ½ cup sauce on the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish and add ⅓ of eggplant to cover the dish's bottom. Top with ⅓ of the ricotta cheese mixture, ⅓ of the mozzarella cheese and ¾ cup of the sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and sauce two more times, reserving the third layer of mozzarella for topping. (you're going to be making 3 layers in total)
- Finish with remaining sauce, mozzarella, and the reserved 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese
- Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and everything is bubbling—about 40 minutes.
- Remove foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the eggplant parmesan to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.