A healthier version of an Italian comfort classic, your entire family will love this flavor-packed Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Crispy Panko Topping.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Parmesan
- 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)
- 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.
I can’t wait to try this! I love the lighten version and this is version looks so easy. too.
Having married an Italian man myself, I totally know how you feel about the cooking! Your baked eggplant would be a hit at our house (and I can say with certainty at my in-laws, as well :) This looks fabulous, Liz!
Aww I love that you feel me Emily!! :)
I totally agree – if you’re going to splurge, make the calories worth it! And eggplant parm is almost always worth it. This sounds great!
Yes exactly!! Thanks Joanne!!
Thanks so much Liz for the nice recipe. My sister loves eggplant too so I will forward this recipe to her.
Oh I hope she likes it Liz!!
Beautiful dinner!! Can’t wait to try this one soon! xo
Your boys would love this Jenny!!
Definitely making this for my family this fall!
It’s perfect for hungry men! I hope you enjoy it Lori!
I buy their 2-pound Provolone pack at Costco and never have a problem going through it! Love how you used it here!
I can’t believe how quickly we got through it!!! Thanks girl!
I want a WHOLE plate of this right now. Love the topping!
We devoured it so quickly! Thanks Cassie!
I LOVE BelGioso and all of their cheeses. Have you tried their burrata or ricotta? They’re amazing. Love your recipe, eggplant parm is one of those dishes I order out but rarely make in. Need to change that.
I’ve had their ricotta but I need to keep an eye out for burrata…nothing better in life!! Why is cheese so good? xo
I adore eggplant Parmesan, but it is usually totally overload for me. I love that you lightened it up, but still kept that glorious cheese. This looks dreamy!
Exactly – it’s always total overload!! This version is the perfect balance. ;)
This looks so wonderful! Love the sound of those big Italian family meals!
Nothing beats family!
Love this, as a new grandma and soon to be great aunt I’m trying recipes that freeze well to help my daughter in law and niece! Going to have to try this out soon, one for now and one for the freezer. No complaints from husband and son that they are ‘guinea pigs’.
Yes this is ideal for this!! I hope you enjoy it!!
Bravissima, Liz! Eggplant Parmigiana is one of my favorite things to eat. I usually fry the eggplant for my version, which is so delicious but can be heavy on the calories and sometimes makes the end result a little too greasy. I’ve started baking the eggplant slices and I love the end result even more. The eggplant gets a slightly smoky flavor from the time in the oven and the finished dish is just as tasty. I love your addition of Panko to the top for extra crunch and Bel Gioioso is one of my favorite brands of cheese.
Thank you so much Flavia!! It’s an honor to get your stamp of approval!
This looks phenomenal, and has gone in my bookmarks folder for things to make. I’d better take a look around here for more …
I hope you like it Eli!
We went through an eggplant phase but haven’t had it for a while now… time to recirculate the purple veggie into our repertoire!
And yes, any calories consumed on cheese are calories well-spent :)
Yes we go in phases too but I always go back to the trusty eggplant!
Droooooooling over this, Liz! Oh, and I get to see you this month!!!!
YAY!!!! October is the best!!
My kind of meal! Love!
I bet your boys would love this Maria!
This looks amazing Liz! Love that it’s relatively low carb as well!
Heck yes!!! Thanks for having me on the campaign!
Love this!!! I can just picture those meals with Rich’s family!! I love eggplant parm, my parents made it perfectly at their restaurant, I miss it!
Jacob is so cute!! Micah is a lover of Italian food too :)
I know you know the type of meal I’m talking about!!! Nothing beats Italian family meals!
Ah that looks perfect! So cheesy and comforting. Eggplant parm is one of my favorites, your variation sounds delicious. :)
Thank you so much!