Day 3 of our 30-day Primal Blueprint Challenge. I’d like to introduce you to my version of healthy eggplant parm. Wait til you taste this. You won’t believe how good it is. Who needs flour dredging or a coating of bread crumbs? We don’t! You’ll see.
Whether or not you peel the eggplant is totally up to you. Sometimes, when I can’t decide, I peel wide strips (using my Y-shape veggie peeler) so that if the skin is on the tough side …I’m safe. Cut the eggplant crossways into 1/3-inch slices. (You can cut them lengthways, but for this presentation, I chose the round discs.)
Now we must address the age old question …is it necessary to pre-salt your eggplant before cooking? There are limitless opinions on this one. The theory is that if you treat the sliced eggplant with salt before cooking, any possible bitterness is eliminated (or diminished) and the eggplant will absorb less oil when frying. Unless I am cooking smaller Italian or Asian eggplants, I always salt before cooking. Once again, there are many methods. (Who knew cooking eggplant could be so complicated?) I place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Generously salt both sides of each slice; then cover with another layer of paper towels. Let the salted eggplant sit for at least 1/2 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours. When you’re ready to cook, rinse the eggplant under cold water to remove the excess salt. Then press the eggplant between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to extract as much liquid as possible. Once this is done, your eggplant slices are ready to go.
Once the eggplant is cool enough to handle, it’s time to get those golden slices in the baking dish. It’s always a good idea to have everything ready …like a parmesan building assembly line.
If you notice that there is some excess liquid/juice gathering in the base of the dish, don’t be too concerned. It should be absorbed during the baking process.
After a brief cool-down period of about 15 minutes, garnish the finished dish with fresh oregano and/or basil along with the optional freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano. It’s now ready to serve. Enjoy!
low-carb eggplant parmesan
Low-carb and delicious. Serve as a side dish or entree.
- 1 large or 2 small eggplant
- 1 tablespoon salt, or more for pre-salting eggplant slices
- 1/2 cup olive oil (or refined coconut oil)
- 16 ounces marinara sauce
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced & torn in large shreds
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus more for garnish
- chopped fresh basil, for garnish (optional)
- freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano, for garnish (optional)
Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/3 inch-thick slices. Place the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Generously salt both sides of each slice; then cover with another layer of paper towels. Let the salted eggplant sit for at least 1/2 hour or up to 1 1/2 hours. When you’re ready to cook, rinse the eggplant under cold water to remove the excess salt. Then press the eggplant between clean kitchen towels or paper towels to extract as much liquid as possible.
Pour the oil into a wide and deep saucepan, preferably something that will fit about 6 to 7 eggplant slices at a time. Heat over medium-high. Test to see if the oil is hot enough by carefully dropping in a cube of eggplant—it should sizzle immediately. Fry 6 to 7 slices at a time, giving a few minutes on each side until they are evenly golden brown. Drain on paper towels and let cool.
Assemble the parmigiana by first spooning some marinara sauce in a thin layer over the bottom of a rectangular or oval ceramic or glass baking dish. Place a layer of eggplant, then spoon over a layer of marinara sauce, then torn mozzarella pieces and a few pieces of chopped oregano leaves. Proceed with another layer of eggplant, marinara sauce and oregano, ending with a more generous layer of mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350° F (180° C) for 25 to 30 minutes, or until bubbly and a golden brown crust has formed. Remove from the oven and let it rest for about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting into it, and it's also delicious served tepid rather than piping hot.