Your favorite vegetarian dinner, turned into a sandwich!
It’s everything you love about your favorite vegetarian dinner, made even better! Our Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich has all the flavors and textures you’d expect from the Italian classic. Crispy, oven-fried eggplant slices are covered with sugar-free marinara and melted mozzarella cheese, but we made a few ingredient swaps to keep the fat and calories low. Serve ’em up on whole-wheat ciabatta bread, and you won’t believe each serving has only 300 calories!
I love plating these Eggplant Parmesan Sandwiches as a half sandwich and salad combo when I have guests (or, soup instead of salad if it’s cold outside). It’s also a great excuse to whip up some faux fries or vegetable chips! No matter how you serve it, it’s one of those dishes that’s impressive enough to satisfy the non-dieters in the family. All while keeping you on track with your diet and wellness plan!
Creating the Perfect Oven-Fried Eggplant
Eggplant isn’t always the most popular ingredient on the block. Most people think that eggplant is hard to cook, and honestly, that’s not necessarily untrue. Unlike other vegetables, eggplant does require some treatment before you cook it.
Eggplant flesh is basically a sponge. If you toss it in fryer oil as-is, it’ll soak up all that oil and become soggy! It also oxidizes very quickly (like an apple), but you can’t toss it in acidified water because it’ll soak up a bunch of excess liquid. So, what’s the best way to treat eggplant? Salt!
After you slice the eggplant, place them on a wire rack and sprinkle on the salt. You don’t need to rub it in, but you do want to make sure that each piece gets an even distribution. The salt will draw out the water from the inside of the eggplant, preventing any off-colors while also removing any excess bitterness. It also tenderizes the eggplant, creating a superior texture.
That’s it! You can rinse off the salt after 5 to 10 minutes, just make sure to pat the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel. This step helps the coating stick to the eggplant in the next step!
Oven-Fried is Better Than Oil-Fried
We love fried food alternatives, and oven-frying our food is one of our favorite methods. It tastes just as crispy as oil-fried food, but with significantly less fat. It also doesn’t have the typical greasy, fried aftertaste that tends to weigh you down. That means you’ll get all the flavor without any of the guilt!
Whipping those egg whites helps them coat the eggplant really well, making the panko coating adhere perfectly. That’s why it’s so important to dry the eggplant slices after salting them. If there’s excess water on the eggplant, the egg whites won’t coat the slices the right way.
Then, press them into the whole-wheat breadcrumbs, coating all the sides of the eggplant. Once it hits the 400-degree oven, the already crunchy panko coating will crisp up to perfection. No one will realize these eggplants weren’t deep fried!
Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
- 1 eggplant sliced into 1/4 inch half moons
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 egg whites
- 2 cups whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 6 whole-wheat ciabatta rolls sliced in half
- 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce no sugar added, hot
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese fat-free, shredded
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese fat-free, grated
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Sprinkle the eggplant with the salt, set aside for 5 to 10 minutes. This will help tenderize the eggplant. Rinse and pat dry.
- Place the egg whites in a bowl and gently whip. Place the panko in a second bowl. Dip each slice of eggplant into the egg white and then the panko, making sure to coat all sides of the eggplant. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and turn over each slice. Return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.
- Divide the cooked eggplant between each bottom half of the ciabatta rolls. Top with marinara, mozzarella, and parmesan. Place the top half of each ciabatta roll and cut in half. Serve.
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