The eggplant or la melanzana in Italian is a nightshade known for its egg shape, glossy color and variety of purple hues. Another thing about eggplant is that it is very hearty and can be used in lots of different ways. It’s used in many staple recipes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. One of the most famous dishes is probably Eggplant Parm. This classic dish is straight up comfort food. Usually the eggplant is fried, and then tucked into layers between tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese and finally baked to perfection.
Today was a scorcher in Milan (98.6º F/37º C) and my fridge was full of eggplants from the Saturday Organic Market. I really wanted to make an eggplant parm however I had NO desire to fire up the oven, bake the eggplant (a healthier alternative) and then assemble the parm to then rebake for another 30-40 minutes. So here’s what I did instead.
Healthy Eggplant Parm: Summer Edition
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 5 medium organic eggplants—–(mine were a variety of 3 different types). The darkest purple is the classic Italian Eggplant. The gorgeous striped ones are Sicilian Eggplant, and finally the rounder and lighter purple ones are Florentine Violettas. They are all a little different, but any kind you have available will be fine.
- 700 grams of Tomato Passata: basically a puree of cooked peeled tomatoes with some basil, it’s easy enough to make at home. Of course if tomatoes are out of season or you are in a rush, it can be found at the store in most countries.
- Parmigiano cheese: So I didn’t use any mozzarella in my recipe to make it a little bit lighter and also to cut down on the dairy used but I did use sprinkles of parmesan between each layer.
- Lots of Basil
- EVOO, Salt
- Wash and remove ends from eggplants. Slice into 3mm disks.
- Add some of the passata to a relatively deep non-stick pan or dish. (If there hasn’t been any added already, add salt and EVOO to the passata to your liking in a separate container before adding it to the pan)
- Add a layer of eggplant without overlapping.
- Add more passata, basil, parmesan, and a little EVOO.
- Repeat these steps until ingredients are gone
- Add a final cheese layer to the top
- Cook covered over low-medium heat for about 50 minutes. It should be hot enough to bubble but not so hot that it burns.
- During the last 10 minutes of cook time, remove the cover to let excess liquids evaporate.
- Serve and enjoy!
And there you have it. A super healthy, yet hearty and satisfying dish. If you want to be a little more gluttonous or just simply can’t give up the mozzarella all you have to do is cut it into cubes and add it into each layer in step 4.
This dish was also an energy saver. Instead of heating my already boiling kitchen, this method for cooking an eggplant parm was tolerable even in the heat of the summer.
Also, did you know that the eggplant is technically a fruit not a vegetable?
Author: Ali @ Sustainable Psyche
My name is Ali. I am an American living in Italy. I am passionate about delicious food that is also ethical, healthy and sustainable. I love pasta and pizza, traveling, horseback riding and exploring the vibrant city of Milan that I call home.