Prep Time: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes
A healthy twist on your favorite Italian home dish. Use vegan cheese or regular to complete your meal!
I almost never, ever eat chicken parm. Even before changing my eating habits to include more veggies; chicken parm was never my go to. I love the idea of it and the recipe for it. I've definitely had it before but it's not my go-to italian dish, or even chicken dish.
I absolutely love it as an eggplant dish!
You can take it a step further and use a vegan cheese, or no cheese, but if you're like me and cheese is your kryptonite, then use a mix of mozzarella and fresh parmesan cheeses.
Although eggplant isn't "high in protein" to actually take the place of chicken, there are many other nutrients you need to fuel the body other than protein that you might not get from chicken. Protein is not the end all be all. You don't even need the insane amount of grams being thrown out there. Protein is one of many, many important nutrients recommended for the body.
Eggplant is high in fiber.
Eggplants are high in fiber and low in calories. In just 1 cup (roughly 82 grams) of raw eggplant there are 3 grams of fiber and just 20 calories, making them an excellent addition to any weight loss regimen. The idea is that fiber makes you feel fuller longer, so you're less likely to eat more calories in a day. That's why eggplants serve as a great low-calorie option in recipes, like chicken parm!
Here are some other foods that are high in fiber!
Beans, peas and other legumes
Nuts and seeds
When I first started cooking, I felt like eggplant was one of the hardest vegetables/fruits to incorporate into meals and actually taste good.
From reading several other recipes I learned this foolproof trick!
This prep step takes about an hour to achieve what we're looking for. So time dinner wisely.
Start with a clean eggplant. Cut eggplant in 1/2" slices. Lay them on a cookie sheet or paper towel and sprinkle both sides generously with salt.
Don't get hung up on the amount of salt. The more the better.
In 45-minutes to 1-hour, you should begin to see water rise on your eggplant slices. The whole piece should be pretty wet if you used enough salt.
Take a paper towel and pat the eggplant dry. Brush off as much salt as possible. Don't worry that salt won't make your dish salty. Plus you're not going to add more salt in the recipe later.
Now, you're ready to fry your "cutlets"! Follow the list of ingredients and steps to achieve your low-calorie eggplant parm!
1 medium size eggplant
1/2 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp minced onion, dried
1 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 gloves of garlic (or more!)
2 tsp oregano
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup alfredo sauce (or 1/2 c heavy cream or full fat whole milk)
*if you choose not to use eggs, mix together flour and water to create a light pancake-like batter, lighter than a batter used for fried chicken. Dip eggplant into batter, then cover with bread crumbs. Fry as usual in oil.
Salt your eggplant cutlets following the steps listed above.
Prepare your batter and breading for frying. In a small bowl whisk 2 eggs; season with black pepper and garlic powder. In a medium bowl mix together flour, bread crumbs, and baking powder. Add in paprika, minced onion, and black pepper.
--- If serving with spaghetti, boil pot of water during prep.
Going one-by-one, dip an eggplant cutlet into the egg mix, allowing excess egg to drip off. Next, drop eggplant into flour bowl and cover it completely with the flour, bread crumbs mixture. Do this until each eggplant slice is breaded and waiting to be sauced and tossed into the oven. Allow them to rest on a cooling rack while you heat oven to 400 degrees.
--- If serving with steamed vegetables, boil pot of water after this step and continue cooking steps for veggies.
In a medium skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic. Once garlic is fragrant, pour in cream (alfredo or milk!) and stir until mixed with oil and garlic. Add more garlic if you feel your sauce needs it.
Once cream is simmering, add tomato sauce and mix both together until uniform and resembles vodka sauce. Add oregano and set aside. Sauce should take 5 minutes or less.
In a cast iron pan or baking platter, spoon a little sauce and oil to lightly cover the bottom of your pan. Place each eggplant cutlet in the sauce and spoon more sauce to the tops of each eggplant, add fresh basil leaves, and parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.
Add platter to oven for cheese to melt and brown.
By now your steamed veggies should be finished and resting in a bowl and your pasta should be ready to be drained and added to your saucepan.
Heat pasta in sauce mixture. Spoon pasta water into the sauce and spaghetti to help loosen the sauce and mix well with the pasta.