Like spaghetti carbonara, this Italian classic has two versions. In the American version, the eggplant is breaded, deep-fried and layered; in the Italian version, it's simply fried in a ton of olive oil. To bread or not to bread? Chef Jo Lusted decided breaded anything tastes better than not, so the American version reigned supreme. Pressing and draining the water from the eggplant is important, as it gives the eggplant a beautiful texture and keeps it crispy on the outside.
2 large eggplants (about 2 lb each), sliced into 1/2 thick rounds
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more for salting eggplant
1/2 cup whole wheat or brown rice flour
3 egg whites
1 large egg
2 cups toasted panko bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups all-natural jarred tomato sauce
2 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped basil
- Line a large baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel or three layers of paper towel. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on top and generously sprinkle with salt (about 1 tbsp). Top eggplant with a second kitchen towel or layer of paper towel and place a second baking sheet on top. Weight baking sheet down with a few heavy cans from your pantry to press excess water from eggplant. Let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse eggplant well and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and place a baking rack on top. Mist rack with cooking spray.
- Place flour in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, whisk together egg whites and egg. In a third shallow dish, combine panko, garlic powder, pepper, cayenne and salt.
- Working with 1 or 2 slices at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, turning to coat both sides and shaking off excess.
- Dip in egg wash, turning to coat both sides. Transfer to panko mixture, gently pressing panko onto both sides to adhere, and place on baking rack. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices. Roast for about 40 minutes, until eggplant is tender and coating is crispy and golden brown.
- Lightly mist a 9- × 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Evenly spread 1 cup sauce in dish. Layer one-third of the eggplant slices in a single layer in pan, gently pressing them down to fit. Top with one-third each remaining sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil. Repeat two more times to form 3 layers. Bake uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and eggplant is heated through.
Tip: Eggplant Parmesan should not be swimming in sauce, just dollops over each eggplant slice does the trick.
28 g fat
12.2 g fat
Yield: Serves 6