Saturday, January 14, 2012

Eggplant and Zucchini "Parmesan"

A little while back I ate out and had an amazing eggplant parmesan. It was decadent - battered, fried, and layered with loads of mozzarella cheese. I enjoyed every bite of my dish but started to think about how to lighten this brick of a meal up a bit.

So here's my version, a healthier but equally delicious and fulfilling meal. I used grilled eggplant rather than batter-fried eggplant, toasted sourdough bread circles, and a little bit of asiago and provolone cheese to give a great punch without the guilt of eating a whole ball of mozzarella. In addition, I used my homemade tomato jam instead of a traditional sauce. At the end of summer I canned over 75 pounds of tomatoes into sauces and jams. My recipe for tomato jam calls for slow roasting in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and herbs - the flavors become so concentrated and delicious. I decided this would be the perfect sauce for my dish, since I am cutting back on the fat and making this dish healthy - I wanted something that packed an extra flavor punch.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

Grilled vegetables:
  • 1 eggplant, sliced 1/4" thick, lengthwise
  • 2-3 zucchini, sliced 1/4" thick, lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
In a small bowl, mix together the oil, garlic, and salt.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lay down the vegetables. Use a brush or spoon to season the vegetables with the olive oil garlic seasoning. Bake the veggies until soft and lightly browned, about 20-30 minutes. This step can also be done outside on a grill. Preheat the grill to its highest temperature, then grill the veggies for 5-8 minutes on one side or 2-4 minutes on each side until nice brown grill marks are established.

  • 1 cup grated asiago cheese
  • 1 cup grated fontina cheese
  • 1 loaf sourdough, batard, french baguette or other crusty bread, sliced 1/2" thick
If you are going to cook this in a casserole dish then toast the bread slices in the oven along with the veggies, for about 5 minutes. I wanted to make individual preparations, so I used ramekins. I placed the ramekin on the bread and used a knife to cut circles out of my bread. I topped each circular slice of bread with the asiago and fontina cheese and toasted them for 8-10 minutes, until the cheese was melted. In a casserole dish, wait until later to add the cheese.

Ricotta filling:
  • 12 oz low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
In a food processor or mini food prep, pulse the above ingredients until well incorporated.

Check out a previous blog post to get the recipe for my tomato jam, or else use a good tomato sauce instead.

Assembly is pretty easy. If you are using a casserole dish then layer the vegetables with the ricotta cheese filling, then top with tomato jam and toasted bread. If you are using individual ramekins then place a tablespoon of tomato jam on the bottom of the ramekin. Lay the grilled veggies lengthwise, from the center of the ramekin, so that they hang over the edge of the ramekin. Then fill the ramekin with ricotta filling and pull the exposed veggies over the filling to nestle everything in place. Bake the casserole dish for 10 minutes then top with the grated asiago and fontina cheese. Continue to bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the ricotta filling is heated through. The ramekins should bake for 10-15 minutes.

To remove from the ramekins, run a knife around the edge of the dish and then turn them over onto a plate. Top with a circular slice of cheese toast and garnish with fresh basil. Serve with additional tomato jam on the side.


  1. this looks like my idea meal. Really inventive, am definitely going to try it out!

  2. This is one of the most beautiful (simple and tasty) meals I have seen in a while. This would be so easy to put together in individual portions the night before and then have an amazing meal to 'finish' when you have guests!

  3. This is the most beautiful eggplant zucchini parmesan I have ever seen. Ever.

  4. Thank you all so much for the compliments and thanks for reading. I hope you can make this sometime soon and enjoy it as much as I did!