Another eggplant recipe! This is the best of both worlds, let me tell you, chicken parmesan and eggplant parmesan together in one dish, all my Italian food dreams come true. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing in one sitting….not that I actually would have, but I was tempted. This recipe is not for the faint of heart, it takes a good chunk of time to panfry the chicken and eggplant and to make the marinara sauce, lots of little steps, but it’s worth it! The final product is layers of eggplant parmesan, whole milk mozzarella, chicken parmesan, grated parmesan, more eggplant parmesan, finally topped with more mozzarella, and then baked just enough to crisp the mozzarella.
A few weeks ago the cafeteria at the hospital had eggplant parmesan as a special. Now I normally just beeline straight toward the salad bar to avoid temptation by the all the main line dishes. It’s not that the lunch entrees are unhealthy, I just don’t like eating a heavy lunch to be honest. But that day, the smell of the eggplant parmesan was too much for me and I was overcome. And it was so worth it for an amazing lunch, made the work day that much better. The best thing about the cafeteria’s eggplant parm was that it was an eggplant parmesan casserole, like eggplant lasagna, but no meat in the sauce, just eggplant parmesan layered with marinara sauce and cheese. No pasta either. I’ve been dying to try to make it at home ever since, and then the thought occurred to me that I should try to make it with both eggplant and chicken.
Because at restaurants, I rarely order eggplant parmesan, usually chicken or veal, I need protein with my meals, but I love eggplant, so I’m torn…. But problem solved with this creation! I even used almond flour as the breading to keep the carbs low. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference once you drown the eggplant and chicken parmesan in marinara sauce and cheese. You could serve this over zoodles or spaghetti squash if you want to add to the meal and keep the carbs low, or dish it up over pasta. I just ate it as is and that was perfect for me.
And, how perfect are these eggplants!
- 3 medium sized chicken breasts pounded thin (to about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick)
- 2 medium eggplants sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
- 2 cups of almond flour separated
- 2 cups of grated parmesan separated
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 eggs
- 1 pound of whole milk mozzarella sliced into thin rounds
- 2 cups of tomatoes chopped
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 12 oz of tomato paste
- 4 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 4 tbsp fresh basil chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil/avocado oil
- ***you may need more than 2 cups of almond flour and 1 cup of shredded parmesan for the breading depending on how heavily you coat the chicken and eggplants.
Arrange eggplant rounds on a baking sheet. Generously salt to sweat the eggplants (draw the moisture out). Allow the eggplants to sit for ~20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
To make the marinara sauce, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and cook about 3-5 minutes until soft. Add minced garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add in the 2 cups of tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in a pinch of salt, pepper, parsley, and basil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes, until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.
To make the chicken parmesan, mix 1 cup of almond flour, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 1 tsp garlic powder, pinch of salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, beat 2 eggs with about 2 tbsp water. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Once heated, dredge chicken breast in egg wash and then almond flour-parmesan mixture. Coating both sides of the chicken breast. Place coated chicken breast in skillet and cook for 5-8 minutes per side, until lightly browned and cooked through. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. Set chicken aside or keep warm in the oven at 170 degrees.
To make the eggplant parmesan, mix the remaining 1 cup of almond flour, 1/2 cup of grated parmesan, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs with 2 tsp water. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Dredge eggplant in egg wash and then the almond flour -parmesan mixture. Once skillet is hot, place coated eggplant rounds in the skillet and let cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until lightly brown. Continue to cook eggplants in batches.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Once eggplants and chicken are cooked, grease a 9x13 casserole dish with oil. Scoop some marinara sauce into the bottom of the dish, just enough to lightly cover the bottom, arrange half the eggplant rounds on the bottom of the pan. Next cover the eggplant with a layer of mozzarella cheese and a thin layer of marinara sauce. Next, layer with chicken breasts. Cover chicken with 1/2 cup grated parmesan, then another layer of eggplant. Cover eggplant with the remaining marinara sauce. Finally layer on the last of the mozzarella cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
***You can layer the eggplant, chicken, cheese, and sauce anyway you want, just be sure to end with eggplant, sauce, and mozzarella.