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Light Eggplant Parmesan & Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Marcelle enjoys preparing delicious meals for family and friends. She especially loves creating original, plant-based, vegan recipes.

Looking for a healthy, vegetarian, low-sodium, and delicious option for dinner? Try this healthy version of eggplant Parmesan and compare its nutritional profile with the same dish at some popular Italian chain restaurants. Use the low-sodium basic tomato sauce recipe included for all your Italian dishes. It tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen but it is actually very quick and easy to prepare.

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The Purple Plant

Eggplants are a nutrition powerhouse! Low in calories (just 20 per cup), eggplants provide a good source of fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. This purple-hued vegetable is rich in chlorogenic acid, a potent antioxidant compound with anti-cancer, antiviral, antimicrobial and anti-LDL cholesterol activity. These oblong purple gems grow on vines, much like tomatoes, and have been described as having a pleasant but slightly bitter taste. When selecting eggplants at your grocer, choose those that are firm and heavy for their size. The skin should be smooth and shiny, with vivid color. Store eggplants for a few days in your refrigerated crisper drawer.

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Eggplant Parmesan Nutritional Comparison

nutritional information per serving

Restaurant

Calories

Fat

Sodium

Olive Garden

850

35

1900

Maggiano’s Little Italy

820

31

3080

The Spaghetti Warehouse

1370

74

1273

Romano’s Macaroni Grill

950

56

1250

Eggplant Parmesan Nutrition Varies

You could order this yummy dish at your local Italian restaurant but it might not be as healthy as you think. A serving of eggplant Parmesan can set you back over 1300 calories, over 70 grams of fat, and more than 3000mg of sodium! By comparison, the recipe offered here lightens up with just 260 calories per serving, 7 grams of fat and only 219mg or sodium. That's quite a difference! The chart below compares nutritional content for this dish at several popular Italian chain restaurants.

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Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Using an oven rather than a frying pan lightens up this recipe, along with excluding the typical overload of cheese and salt. You won't miss out though on flavor with this home-cooked, hearty meal. Make this meal in advance and put it covered in the refrigerator until you are ready to put it in the oven. Add a few minutes to cooking time.

Ingredients

  • 2 eggplants, about 2 pounds
  • 4 tablespoons organic cartoned egg whites, or flaxseed egg (see below under make it vegan)
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup fine, dry whole-wheat bread crumbs or panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, see recipe below
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, or dairy-free cheese shreds

Use a Good Tomato Sauce

Be sure to use the simple tomato sauce recipe posted below. The sauce makes a big difference in the flavor and texture of this eggplant Parmesan and the texture. A store-bought, jarred sauce won't quite to the job with this recipe.

Make it Vegan!

Just a few simple substitutions will make this meal vegan and no less delicious. First, for the egg, substitute 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes before using. Next, substitute vegan "parmesan" and "cheese" and you've made a vegan meal.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  4. Whisk egg whites and water in a shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, garlic powder and black pepper in another dish.
  5. Dip the eggplant slices first into the egg mixture, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture and arrange the slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake eggplant slices for 15 minutes, turn, then cook another 15 minutes.
  7. Spread about ½ cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping as needed. Spread half of the sliced basil leaves on top of the eggplant slices. Sprinkle with half of the mozzarella cheese. Spoon about 1 cup of sauce over the cheese. Arrange the rest of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce, the rest of the basil, the remaining sauce and then the rest of the mozzarella cheese. Top with the remaining parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake uncovered at 400°F until the sauce bubbles and the top is slightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Slice eggplant about 1/4-inch thick.

Slice eggplant about 1/4-inch thick.

Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture.

Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture.

Coat with breadcrumb mixture. Gently shake off any excess.

Coat with breadcrumb mixture. Gently shake off any excess.

Scroll to Continue

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Arrange coated slices on a lined baking sheet.

Arrange coated slices on a lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Flip slices over and bake another 15 minutes.

Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes. Flip slices over and bake another 15 minutes.

Spread sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant, chopped basil, and mozzarella cheese. Spoon sauce on top.

Spread sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Layer eggplant, chopped basil, and mozzarella cheese. Spoon sauce on top.

Repeat, layering beginning with eggplant, then basil, then cheese, then sauce.

Repeat, layering beginning with eggplant, then basil, then cheese, then sauce.

Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.

Top with remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

Simple and full of flavor, this tomato sauce is a staple for any Italian dish! Use it for the Eggplant Parmesan recipe above or for any pasta recipe. This recipe is doubled already, making 12 servings, so you can freeze the other half for your next meal. Before you are tempted to take a shortcut with bottled sauce, check the label for sodium content. Most are very high but this one keeps sodium in check at a very low 7mg per serving plus it’s easy to make and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 26-oz packages of Pomi brand chopped tomatoes* (or other diced, no-salt-added, canned tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Nutrition Facts

12 servings

  • Calories 48
  • Fat 1g
  • Carbohydrates 8g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Protein 1g
  • Sodium 7mg

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large heavy pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook another 60 seconds.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano and basil and mash with a potato masher. Bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, over low heat, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes cook down, about 45 to 50 minutes. Add pepper, to taste.

* I recommend using Pomi brand chopped tomatoes in this recipe. The flavor and texture easily surpasses other brands. Another bonus is that each half cup serving only has 5mg of sodium.

© 2014 Marcelle Bell

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