A craving for Italian food + watching The Godfather = this recipe for eggplant parm.
After a trip to my homeland of Tennessee, my husband and I were anxious to get back to a healthy diet after a week of splurging. There’s nothing like nonstop buttery and fried food to make you yearn for a salad. Cut to a few nights into our “cleanse” and I was jonesing for Italian food, but didn’t want to indulge in heavy bread or pasta. I picked up a big eggplant, some canned tomatoes, and found frozen riced cauliflower in my freezer and breadcrumbs in my pantry. Done and done.
This recipe seems a little complicated but it really isn’t. You can easily be doing two things at once throughout the prep, and it all comes together and bakes for less than 30 minutes. The eggplant is roasted for optimum texture and flavor, and the cauliflower bechamel makes it luxurious. It’s soul-warming total comfort food with lots of veggie power and without all the fat (it barely has any cheese at all, but you won’t miss it).
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1″ steaks (see this article)
1 can crushed tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 cup riced cauliflower
1 cup (plus extra) milk or non-dairy milk
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan cheese
fresh basil (optional)
- Place the eggplant slices on a wire rack or a couple of layers of paper towels. Salt well on both sides, rubbing it in with your hands. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Combine the tomatoes, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper. I blended mine with a stick blender to make it easy to distribute. No need to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When the 30 minutes is up, use paper towels to dab all excess moisture from both sides of the eggplant slices, and then to wipe off any extra salt.
- Give both sides of each slice a coating of olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. In the meantime, prepare a large (9×13 or larger) baking pan/casserole dish by greasing with olive oil.
- Also meanwhile, place the riced cauliflower and milk in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Cook, bubbling but not boiling too much, until the cauliflower is tender, or about 5 minutes. Add the garlic in the last 30 seconds, add a glug of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Use a stick blender to blend until smooth, adding milk as needed. It should have the consistency of a hearty alfredo sauce.
- When the eggplant is done, remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 375. Add a little bit of each sauce to the bottom of the pan and coat. Add the eggplant slices, toasted side up. Add the rest of both sauces, covering the slices.
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, a pinch of salt and pepper, and enough olive oil to coat the crumbs but not leave them dripping. Sprinkle over the top of the eggplant.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and cook for 10-12 more, or until the eggplant is tender and the sauce is a little bubbly. Serve with salad.