Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

4.89 from 9 votes

 A healthier version of an Italian comfort classic, your entire family will love this flavor-packed Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Crispy Panko Topping.

Healthy eggplant parm in a dish

With a last name like Della Croce, you've probably figured out by now that I'm married to an Italian man. Lucky for me, I also married into a giant Italian family full of incredible cooks including my Aunt Dolly who we visit every time we visit Boston.

Boston Family

Inevitably, she and her son Rich (pictured above with all the cousins) spend hours in the kitchen cooking a 4-course spread for us. It starts with bruschetta made with tomatoes from her garden and ends with pastries from the local Italian bakery. Just when you think you can't take another bite, you find room for just one more.

Assembling the Eggplant Parm - The Lemon Bowl

When my friends at BelGioioso asked me to create a recipe showcasing their Sliced Mild Provolone, I decided to create a dish that would remind my husband of home. Between Aunt Dolly's house and the inevitable visit to Boston's North End, it is hard to compete in the Italian food department but I was up for the challenge.

BelGioioso Grana and Provolone - The Lemon Bowl

One of my philosophies when it comes to healthy eating is to make my calories count. By nature, cheese is higher in calorie which is why I only eat and cook with high quality, high flavor cheeses. Unlike typical provolone cheeses, (made here in America) is aged for more than 60 days before hitting your refrigerator. As a result, it has a really deep, sharp and almost nutty flavor that pairs perfectly with the broiled eggplant and homemade tomato sauce in this healthy baked eggplant parm.

Jacob eating Eggplant - The Lemon Bowl

As you can tell, Jacob thought it was finger-licking good. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how many servings he ate. Let's just say this little bambino loves Italian food as much as his daddy.

Ooey, gooey, melty and cheesy, the 2-pound packs of pre-sliced BelGioioso Mild Provolone can be found at your nearest Costco as well as your local grocery store. I love having extra cheese on hand to make the boys a quick quesadilla or for an added boost of protein and calcium in my Ham and Cheese Baked Egg Cups.

PS: This freezes fabulously and is the ideal meal to gift a new mom or someone who could use a little taste of the good life.

Your fork is waiting.

Healthy eggplant parm in a dish

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

4.89 from 9 votes
A healthier version of an Italian comfort classic, your entire family will love this flavor-packed Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Crispy Panko Topping.
PREP: 30 mins
COOK: 40 mins
TOTAL: 1 hr 10 mins
REVIEW PRINT
Servings: 8

Ingredients
 

  • 2 large eggplants (sliced 1/2 thick)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (divided)
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (grated)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon chili flakes - divided (divided)
  • 32 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 14 ounce can tomato sauce (low sodium)
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 6 slices BelGioioso Sliced Mild Provolone (or equivelent )
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 ounces BelGioioso American Grana® parmesan (grated)

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 475 degrees. Arrange eggplant slices in a single layer amongst two foil-lined baking sheets sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Brush the top of each eggplant round with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Bake eggplant until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove eggplant from the oven and reduce heat to 350 degrees.
  • While eggplant is baking, heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add diced onion to the pan along with a small pinch of kosher salt. Stirring frequently, cook onions until they become translucent, 4-5 minutes.
  • Grate garlic directly over pan and add 1/4 teaspoon of the chili flakes. Stir in tomato sauce, whole peeled tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of the oregano. Use scissors or a potato masher to gently break down the whole peeled tomatoes. Add red wine then bring to a boil before reducing heat to low on simmer. Check for seasoning and add salt or pepper to taste; set aside.
  • To begin assembling the eggplant parm, ladle 1 cup of the tomato sauce and spread across the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Place one layer of eggplant on top of the sauce, overlapping each slice a little.
  • Pour another cup or so of the tomato sauce on top of the eggplant and continue until you've used all of the eggplant, ending with sauce on top.
  • Top the last layer of sauce with 6 slices BelGioioso Sliced Mild Provolone overlapping one another to cover the entire pan.
  • In a small bowl, mix together panko bread crumbs, BelGioioso American Grana® and the remaining spices: 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Sprinkle the panko/cheese mixture in an even layer on top of the provolone.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until dish is gently bubbling and the cheese/panko topping is golden brown: 35-40 minutes.
  • Let pan rest 5-10 minutes before slicing to allow ingredients to settle. Serve over pasta or with crusty bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 274kcalCarbohydrates: 19.6gProtein: 12gFat: 15.7gSaturated Fat: 5.8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 9.9gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 860mgFiber: 4.6gSugar: 8.1g
DID YOU TRY THIS RECIPE? Mention @thelemonbowl or tag #thelemonbowl! I would LOVE to see!

61 thoughts on “Healthy Eggplant Parmesan”

  1. I tried this tonight for dinner and the flavor was out-of-this-world amazing. Restaurant-quality. The sauce with the cheese and panko/parmesan topping was 5+++ stars. However, just reading the recipe I suspected that with the baking times listed, the eggplant would be soft, if not totally mushy, and this was exactly what happened. I even cut the time of the initial roasting of the eggplant to about 12 minutes, and the baking of the layered dish to about 25 minutes, but the eggplant turned out to be total mush and the skin was separating from the flesh when I gently scooped my serving from the casserole dish. Is this how it's supposed to be? Or are the slices of eggplant supposed to retain their shape and still be identifiable? I followed the directions exactly otherwise. :( I will try again and only roast the slices for 6-7 minutes next time. I want to get it right, and I would not serve this to company with it that mushy.

    1. Hey Jennifer - First of all, thank you so much for the kind review. I'm so happy that the flavor was on point for you! Second, to answer your question, YES the recipe is designed to have soft, tender eggplant. If you want to have crispy eggplant you would need to fry it but that would add hundreds of calories. Of course, no judgement here if you want it to be a fried eggplant which is how restaurants traditionally make it. To do that, I suggest dipping in flour, egg wash then bread crumbs before frying in oil on both sides about 2-3 minutes per side. :) Note: this means the dish will no longer be gluten free. Does this help at all?

  2. Hello! I really want to try this recipe - it looks amazing. One question that came up right away, though: is it really necessary to pre-bake the eggplant by itself first, when you're going to bake it with the sauce for 35-40 minutes later on? Just seems like it would be pure mush after baking twice!
    Thanks!

    1. Yes absolutely it is necessary. This is a WONDERFUL question!! #1 reason? By roasting it off first, you bake off a lot of the liquid. Eggplant has a very high water content so you want to remove as much as possible to have maximum flavor at the end. ENJOY!

    2. Had some leftover pasta and pasta sauce, but not really enough for a meal, so I borrowed the eggplant and crispy topping from this -- turned out great! Looking forward to making more of this when the boyfriend's boss's garden starts churning out the eggplants this summer :)

    3. Made this last night for the family. For a weeknight meal it was a little more time than I would usually spend but it paid off in the end. A big hit. I served it with quinoa and it was delicious. Happy to have leftovers for lunch.

    4. I'm reading through this to make tomorrow night and not understanding step 10 could you clarify what to do with the sauce? Does it go on the top of the cheese before the panko?

      10. Ladle a cup or so of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees until dish is gently bubbling and the cheese/panko topping is golden brown: 35-40 minutes.

      1. Oh my goodness Jodie - looks like there was an extra step in there by mistake. I've edited the recipe to remove that unnecessary second step. :-) So sorry about that. Please let me know if you have any further questions and ENJOY!! This was a huge hit with my boys and is a regular rotation on our dinner table.

    5. Liz, this is making my mouth water! Seriously. LOVE that you use Provolone and I totally agree...if I'm using cheese, it has to have lots of great flavor...it really does allow you to use less. Pinning this gorgeousness to make soon!

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