If you need a break from carbs on carbs on carbs, but still want feel like you’re being wrapped up in a cozy hug, look no further than Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan. This lighter, individual take on classic baked eggplant parmesan is light, comforting, and of course, totally cheesy. Bonus? There’s only six ingredients.
Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
If you think you don’t care eggplant, try Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan, and you’ll become a convert. I can almost guarantee it.
What is there not to love about layers of vegetables sandwiched between nutty parmesan breadcrumbs and copious amount of gooey mozzarella cheese. And then we go and smother it in your favorite marinara sauce. It’s heaven.
The layer of crispy parmesan bread crumbs adds texture without having to bread and fry each individual eggplant slice, and saves a heck of a lot of calories. The quantity of cheese, is indeed generous, but we have to indulge somewhere. And mozzarella is like, the healthiest of all the cheeses so there’s that.
Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan is for those days when you want a cozy hug in the form of food.
The days when you just want to run in the closest grocery store, grab a handful of ingredients, and get out before your kids lose their minds.
It’s for the days you don’t want to cook, but you’re desperate for a dinner that will knock your socks off.
Basically, it’s for any occasion in which you want it to look like a food rockstar and fill your belly in the form of comfort, all while barely having to lift a finger.
Eggplant Health Benefits
Is eggplant good for you? YES! Not only do I love eggplant for the sweet, soft flesh, but I love it for all the healthy little nuggets it has. In addition to being extremely low in calories, it’s packed with fiber, leaving you full and satisfied. It’s also pretty high in folate, and potassium, which I love to pack in when I’m pregnant and nursing.
I also love that eggplant has plenty of antioxidants, warding off any free radicals, and bonus? It’s also known to reduce the risk of heart disease. Please give me ALL of the eggplant. Thankyouvery much.
A little note. If you’ve ever wondered what eggplant vs. aubergine is, don’t. They are the same exact thing. The only difference is Americans call aubergine, eggplant, and europeans call eggplant aubergine.
Ingredients in Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
As I’ve mentioned, ahem, several times, there’s only SIX ingredients in today’s Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan. They are:
Eggplant. I like to buy two pretty large eggplant for this recipe. You’re going to want an eggplant that’s about 4-inches in diameter and can make 12 1/2-inch slices.
Olive oil. I tried to avoid the olive oil here so we could stick to 5-ingredient Friday, but the eggplant really needs a little bit of olive oil when it roasts. The bread crumbs also benefit with a little bit of moisture from olive oil, so don’t skip it!
Breadcrumbs. I typically like to use plain breadcrumbs so I can control the seasoning, but when I want to keep the ingredient list low, I reach for Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs since they already have plenty of spices and seasoning already in it.
Parmesan. A good-quality parmesan is what you’ll need. I like to use parmigiano reggiano, but any good-quality ages parmesan will work great. Just promise me you won’t buy the stuff in the green can.
Mozzarella. Low-moisture, low-fat mozzarella, I never ever buy pre-shredded mozzarella. Always shred it yourself! When you buy pre-shredded the company has to add extra ingredients to preserve the cheese, making it more difficult to melt beautifully.
Marina. Use for favorite good-quality variety. This is not the time to go cheap and buy the first $1.99 bottle of marinara you see. These days a lot of local Italian restaurants will stock their signature marinaras in the freezer section or bottled section of the grocery store. Go with that!
How to make Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan
Eliminate moisture in eggplant. This is an optional step, but one that some say essential. I don’t think it, so if you have time do this, great. If you don’t, don’t blink an eye. Basically, eggplant has quite a bit of moisture innately in it. When you cook the eggplant, it can become soft if you don’t draw out some of that moisture. The answer to this, is to sprinkle the eggplant sliced generously with salt and wait about 15 minutes.
After it’s set out for a while, you’ll see little droplets of water ooze out from the flesh. Take a paper towel and wipe off any moisture you see. You’re ready to go.
Prep and par-cook the eggplant. Once the eggplant has eliminated some of it moisture, brush both sides with remaining olive oil and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Place on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.
This process will ensure the eggplant cooks at the same rate the mozzarella melts.
Mix the breadcrumbs. Toss the seasoned breadcrumbs with an equal amount of parmesan cheese. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.
Shred the cheese. Make sure everything is prepped and ready to go so assembly is a cinch. Shred the cheese while the moisture in the eggplant is eliminated.
How to assemble Eggplant Parmesan
Layer a cup or so marinara into the bottom of a 9×12 baking dish or sheet pan. Place a layer of eggplant on top. Six should nestle in nicely.
Evenly divide the breadcrumb and parmesan filling on top of each eggplant slice. Evenly divide half of the shredded mozzarella of top. Cover with another eggplant slice.
Spoon the rest of the marina sauce over the top eggplant slice. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly, about 25-30 minutes. Serve right away.
How can I make this in advance?
I find that mozzarella cheese doesn’t reheat well in the oven. It often gets hard and never reaches that gooey, cheese-pull state we all love. I’d suggest, prepping the eggplant, and par-cooking it the day before if needed. You can also shred the cheese before as well.
Doing those two steps in advance will make whipping up Healthy Baked Eggplant Parmesan even easier than it already is.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Add in a little bit of heavy cream to your marinara sauce for a creamy take on baked eggplant parmesan.
- Swap out fresh mozzarella in place of block mozzarella for a truly cheesy experience. You’ll need 16 ounces, eight for the inside, 8 for the out.
- Swap out whole-wheat breadcrumbs in place of regular.
- Add sautéed a little bit of garlic in olive oil and add to the bread crumbs.
More healthy updates on classics!
- Our Creamy Tomato Pasta is packed with pureed carrots and uses greek yogurt instead of cream to mimic that luxurious mouthfeel we all love about creamy pastas.
- Chicken Spaghetti is one of my favorite comfort foods and we’ve lightened it up in our Healthier Chicken Spaghetti.
- There’s nothing more classic than Spaghetti and Meatballs, and this healthy version really hits the spot!
- 2 medium eggplants
- 2 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup seasoned italian breadcrumbs
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- Mixing bowl
- baking sheet
- Baked dish
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Slice eggplant into 12 1/2-inch pieces. Line them up on a cookie cooling rack and sprinkle generously with salt. Cover with a large sheet pan to press them down. Let them sit for 30 minutes while the oven preheats. This step is optional, but does draw out some moisture and bitterness in the eggplant so keep that in mind. I don't mind doing this, since it only takes about 10 minutes longer than the oven takes to preheat, plus it's all hands-off.
- Wipe the eggplant with paper towels to get rid of all excess moisture. Transfer the eggplant slices to a large baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush the eggplant on both sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the eggplant roasts, add parmesan, breadcrumbs, and remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil to a small bowl. Toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread one cup of sauce in a 9x13 baking dish. Once eggplant slices cook for 20 minutes, arrange six in the bottom of the pan. Spoon one tablespoon of sauce on top. Evenly divide the parmesan and breadcrumb filling between the eggplant slices. Sprinkle evenly with half of the mozzarella cheese. Cover with another eggplant slice. Spoon remaining marinara sauce on top of eggplant. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Place in the oven and bake another 20 minutes or until the eggplant is soft, and the cheese has melted and started to brown. Serve right away.