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I haven’t had anything “Parmesan-ed,” so to speak, eggplant, chicken or otherwise, in years.  Years!  Yet I love it so much.  It’s one of those things I actually forget how much I like until I eat it again.

It always reminds me of the years on my high school yearbook staff when we’d order food on deadline days from a local sandwich place and I would almost always get the chicken parm sandwich.  Man, was it good.  Too bad that kind of thing absolutely doesn’t fit with my dietary needs these days.

Even though anything with Parmesan is a bit of a cheat on my part, I can still feel good about eating a little of this lighter version of a classic while memories of ad sales, class pictures and grease pencils flood my mind.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

  • 1 small eggplant (I actually used half a large one)
  • 1 egg
  • Panko breadcrumbs + Italian seasoning (or Italian breadcrumbs)
  • Kosher/sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (I used my homemade sauce)
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan
  • Basil strips, for garnish (optional)

So few ingredients for such a delicious dish.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Wash and slice the eggplant into about 1/4 to 1/2-inch rounds.  Brush a tablespoon of olive oil onto a baking sheet.  Add about a teaspoon of water to the egg and beat.  Mix some Italian seasoning into the Panko.  Dip the eggplant rounds into the egg wash, dredge either side in the Panko, place them on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until browned to your liking.  I like mine on the golden brown, crispy side.  Flip them over and bake for another 8 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, put a little marinara sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish.

Place half the eggplant rounds in a single layer on top of the sauce.  Put more sauce on top of the eggplant.  Repeat with the rest of the eggplant and sauce.

Lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake for about 20 minutes.  Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese starts to brown.

You get all the flavor of traditional Eggplant Parmesan without a lot of extra sauce and cheese.  Hence the “lighter.”

And I’m personally not a big fan of heavy, saucy, cheesy dishes anyway.  So this version is juuust right.

It’s good to know that in the future this will more than satisfy my infrequent craving for rich, Italian food without feeling too guilty.

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