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Ornish Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Serves: 8–10
Serving Size: 1 eggplant stack
Prep: 1 hr
Cook: 1 hr
Ready: 2 hr

Everyone loves eggplant parmesan, so we’ve created a heart-healthy version that everyone can love. Eggplant slices, dipped in egg white and whole grain breadcrumbs, are baked (not fried) until crispy. Then, they’re sandwiched with a high-protein, nutrient-rich spinach-tofu filling and blanketed in tangy marinara sauce. If desired, the eggplant can get a final topping of nonfat mozzarella cheese.


For Eggplant:
½ CUP egg whites from 4 eggs
¼ TEASPOON fine sea salt
1 ¼ CUPS fat-free, whole-grain (or gluten-free) breadcrumbs
2 small to medium eggplants cut into 1/2-in slices (about 16 to 20 slices total) see Chef’s Note

For Filling:
1 LB frozen spinach thawed
8 OZ firm tofu patted dry and finely crumbled
¾ TEASPOON garlic powder
¾ TEASPOON onion powder
¼ TEASPOON fine sea salt
1/8 TEASPOON freshly ground pepper

For Assembly:
ONE 24-OZ jar low-fat marinara sauce
1 CUP fat-free mozzarella cheese shredded (optional)
¼ CUP fresh basil chopped


1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place egg whites and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small, shallow bowl. Whisk vigorously with a fork until light and frothy. Place breadcrumbs in a second small shallow bowl.
3. One slice at a time, dip eggplant into the egg whites, coating each side. Then, dip each slice into the breadcrumbs, coating each side. Press the crumbs onto each slice as necessary to make them stick. (So your hands don’t get gloppy, use one hand to dip the eggplant into the egg whites and the other to dip into the crumbs.)
4. Place crumb-coated eggplant slices on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until eggplant slices are cooked through and lightly brown on top, about 35 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven.
5. While eggplant is baking, make the filling. Place thawed spinach in a colander in the sink or over a deep bowl. Using your hands, squeeze or press spinach vigorously to remove excess liquid. Continue to squeeze and press spinach until it is almost dry. After draining, you should have about 1½ cups of spinach.
6. In a medium bowl, stir together the drained spinach, finely crumbled tofu, onion powder, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Set aside.
7. To assemble the eggplant parmesan, spread 1 cup of marinara sauce evenly over the bottom of a 9 x 13-in glass Pyrex baking dish. Arrange 8 to 10 of the baked eggplant slices on top of the marinara.
8. Spoon 1/3 cup of the spinach mixture on top of each piece of eggplant. Top each piece of eggplant with a heaping tablespoon of marinara sauce.
9. Top each eggplant slice with another, similarly-sized slice of eggplant, lightly pressing the slices together.
10. Spoon the remaining marinara sauce over the eggplant slices. Sprinkle slices with cheese, if using. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point, 1 to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate until needed. Preheat oven to 375ºF before baking.)
11. Bake the eggplant parmesan until eggplant and filling have heated through and cheese has melted, 30–35 minutes.
12. To brown top, increase oven heat to broil. Move baking dish to the upper third of the oven, about 6 to 8 inches below the heat. Broil for one to two minutes, until the top is lightly browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with basil just before serving.

Chef’s Note:
For this recipe, use small to medium eggplants that weigh about 12 to 16 ounces each. The middle slices of the eggplant should be 3 inches or less in diameter, in order for the slices to fit neatly into a 9 x 13-in baking pan. You’ll need 16 to 20 slices of roughly the same size so they can be stacked together evenly. Reserve any small ends or extra slices for another use.

Shopping list:
Eggs or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites (4)
Fat-free whole grain (or gluten-free) breadcrumbs (1 1/4 CUPS)
Small to medium eggplants, 12 to 16 oz each (2)
Frozen spinach (1 LB)
Firm tofu (8 OZ)
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Low-fat marinara sauce (ONE 24-OZ JAR)
Fat-free shredded mozzarella, optional (4 OZ)
Fresh basil (1 BUNCH)

For more Ornish recipes, visit the online Recipedia.

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