Lightened-Up Eggplant Parmesan Linguine Bake

Eating healthy doesn’t mean giving up the foods you love; it just means eating them in moderation.

One of my all time favorite Italian dishes is Eggplant Parmesan, but due to the unforeseen amounts of fat and calories, I can’t exactly eat it anytime I want. I challenged myself to recreate a healthier version of Eggplant Parmesan at home by baking the eggplant instead of deep-frying it. In addition, I used whole grain pasta instead of white pasta.  In my version of this decadent dish I baked the pasta along with the eggplant, sauce, and cheese–which resulted in a much heartier dish. The end results were amazingly light and tasty … and the best part is this dish is guilt-free.

So here is my version of Eggplant Parmesan Linguine Bake (REDUCED FAT):

Ingredients:
3/4 pound whole grain linguine
24 ounce bottle marinara sauce
3/4 to 1 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 medium eggplant (cut into 1/4-inch rings)
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Directions: (for a step-by-step version with photos, go to Eggplant Parmesan Linguine Bake)
1. Set aside water to boil for the pasta.  Once boiled, keep on low simmer for a while.
2. Set aside the bread crumbs… you will need 3/4 to 1 cup.
3. Beat 1 egg and 1 egg white, set aside.
4. Grease an oven safe tray with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil, or use olive oil spray.  Set aside.
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
6. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rings.
7. Season with salt and black pepper.  Set aside for 15 minutes.
8. In the meantime, chop the garlic and onions.  Set aside.
9. After 15 minutes, check on the eggplant… it should be slightly brown.
THE DIPPING PROCESS
10. Now start the dipping process…
11. Drench the eggplant in the egg mixture… BOTH SIDES.
12. Coat the eggplant with the bread crumbs… BOTH SIDES.
13. Add the eggplant to the greased tray. Repeat this 3-step process for the remaining eggplants.
14. Once done and the oven is preheated, place the tray in the oven for 15 minutes.
MAKING THE SAUCE
15. You can make marinara sauce from scratch… or I just used jarred sauce … it is not too fattening and there is no high fructose corn syrup (a lot of other sauces contain HFCS).
16. Heat a pot on low-medium heat, dial #4, add 1 tbsp oil, add crushed red pepper.  Once the pepper starts to sizzle….
17. Add the onions and garlic you chopped earlier.  Season with salt.  Combine.
18. After 5 minutes, the onions should be golden.
19. Now add the marinara sauce.  Stir.
20. Cover and let this simmer for 10 minutes.
AFTER 10 MINUTES… turn off the gas… set the sauce aside.
21. Grate the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  Set aside.
22. Chop the basil… you can never have enough basil, so use generously.  Set aside.
23. Back to the eggplant, flip over all the pieces and place the tray back in the oven for ANOTHER 10 MINUTES.
24. Once the eggplant is done… remove from the oven.
SAUTE THE EGGPLANT
25. Heat a pan on medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil, add the baked eggplant and sauté lightly for a few minutes on each side, or until slightly crisp.
26. While the eggplant is cooking, salt the boiling water and add 1 tsp of oil.  The water should be on dial #5.
27. Add the linguine to the boiling water.  Cook for 8-10 minutes, should be slightly firmer than al dente…. this is because we will bake the pasta.
28. After lightly sautéing, your eggplant should be crisp on both sides.
29. Drain the pasta.
LAYER THE EGGPLANT PARMESAN – PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES
30. Grease a 7×11 baking tray with 1 tsp of oil.
31. Add the drained pasta to the greased baking tray.
32. Add a good amount of sauce to the pasta… this will keep the linguine moist.
33. Add the eggplant… 8 pieces.
34. Top with sauce.
35. Now add half the cheese.
36. Add the remaining eggplant pieces.
37. Top with the remaining sauce.
38. Top with the remaining cheese.
39. Sprinkle bread crumbs on top… probably around 2 tbsp.
40. Cover with foil.
THE BAKING PROCESS
41. Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
42. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes until golden on top.
43. Top with basil.
44. I’m sure your “honey” will be happy

Written by Nisha. Nisha is a blogger for “Honey, What’s Cooking?” a blog that focuses primarily on healthy cooking with step-by-step images and restaurant reviews.  Join Nisha on a soul searching journey through food, travel, and life experiences on http://www.honeywhatscooking.com.

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