A Lighter Eggplant Parm

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my most favorite things in the world, but making a traditional version of it at home isn’t easy. Mulitple steps and the time they demand make it unattractive to most home cooks who want a hearty, comforting meal without a lot of fuss and dirty dishes. However, this recipe is easy and much lower in fat and calories than the traditional version. There is no frying involved and less cheese. It’s super nourishing and can be made vegan by simply omitting the Parmesan or substituting your preferred vegan version of it. The breading mixture tastes great on its own, salty with umami and heat as well as a touch of crunch, it hits the flavor notes desired from a dish like this. Give it a whirl!

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant (about 1.25 pounds / 500 grams) or 2 smaller ones similar in diameter.
  • 1/2 cup almond milk.
  • 1 teaspoon arrowroot or corn starch.
  • Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle.
  • Jar of Kirkland marinara sauce (or your favorite marinara).
  • Balsamic vinegar or reduction.
  • Grated Parmesan totaling about half a cup or more.
  • Red pepper flakes.

for the breading…

  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast.
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds (I buy these at Trader Joe’s).
  • 3 tablespoons roasted flax seeds. (Trader Joe’s again)
  • 2 -3 cloves of garlic.
  • 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs.
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Get a small food processor out of the cupboard.
  3. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch (half a centimeter) rounds.
  4. Line a sheet pan with paper towel and spread the eggplant slices in a single layer on top. Sprinkle with salt and let it sit there. Pat it dry occasionally while you prep the rest of the dish.
  5. In the bowl of the food processor, pulse all of the breading ingredients until you have even crumbs. Season well. Transfer to a shallow bowl.
  6. Whisk almond milk and arrowroot flour in a second shallow bowl.
  7. Pour about half of the marinara sauce into a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm) baking dish or a dish of similar capacity. Drizzle some balsamic on top. Make sure it coats the pan evenly.
  8. Dip each eggplant slice into the almond milk and then into the crumbs. Get a good coating of crumbs on both sides. Don’t be shy. Place it in the baking dish on top of the marinara. Do this with each eggplant slice, layering them into the dish.
  9. Spoon some marinara on top.
  10. Finish with grated cheese and more bread crumbs. Drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.
  11. Cover with foil.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Remove the foil and continue baking until the eggplant is tender. This could take 15-20 minutes depending on your oven and the thickness of your eggplant slices. There is nothing worse than undercooked eggplant. Don’t be rushed.
  14. Serve hot.

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