Whenever we go to an old school Italian restaurant, I almost always order eggplant Parmesan. It has all of the components of a great Italian comfort food dish: melty cheese, crispy fried breading, tons of marinara sauce, and it's usually served on a bed of pasta. It's kind of my weakness. Even though it's meatless, it isn't the healthiest (see cheese, fried breading, and pasta for examples) so it's not something I typically make at home. On top of that, my husband despises eggplant... so that's two strikes right there.
Recently, however, I was reading Cooking Light and they were featuring an eggplant and zucchini Parmesan recipe and I had a lightbulb moment-- zucchini would be a perfect eggplant substitute! And, it's something my husband will actually eat.
This zucchini Parmesan is pretty tasty-- and it's also slightly healthier than its Italian restaurant deep fried eggplant counterpart. The zucchini is lightly breaded and then baked (not fried) on a wire rack to get that nice crispiness without the greasiness of frying. It is then baked in marinara sauce where it soaks up some great flavor and then it is all topped with a layer of mozzarella cheese, just thick enough to get melty, brown, and bubbly-- exactly the topping that you want for your Parmesan! I served mine over whole grain pasta. You know, to keep things "healthy."
- Cooking spray
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced diagonally into 3/4-inch slices
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 Tbs. milk
- 1 cup panko
- 1/2 tsp. dry Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup prepared marinara sauce
- 1/3 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Lightly coat the rack with cooking spray.
Whisk the egg and milk in a shallow dish until combined. In a separate shallow dish, combine panko, Italian seasoning, Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Dip the zucchini slices in the egg mixture. Follow by dredging in panko mixture, gently pressing mixture to adhere to the surface of the zuchinni. Arrange zucchini slices on the prepared rack. Lightly coat the tops of the zucchini with cooking spray. Bake at 450 for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven.
Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of a small baking dish or crock. Layer the baked zucchini slices into the dish and pour remaining marinara sauce over the top. Sprinkle evenly with mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake for an additional 12 minutes.
Uncover and place the dish under the broiler for 3-4 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly.
Serve warm with pasta and additional marinara, if desired.
Inspired by a recipe from Cooking Light.