RecipeSlow Cooker Eggplant Parm

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
  • Calories: 330
  • Protein: 17
  • Total Fat: 19
    • Unsaturated Fat: 0 g
    • Saturated Fat: 6 g
  • Cholesterol: 25 mg
  • Total Carbohydrate: 28 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 6 g
  • Total Sugar: 10 g
    • Natural Sugar: 10 g
    • Added Sugar: 0 g
  • Sodium: 660 mg

This slow cooked, lightened up classic Italian dish is a total no-brainer—this is an aubergen-ius good-for-you recipe. The prep is so simple and there is no need to bread and fry the eggplant, because let’s be honest, when these purple-ish gems are smothered in flavorful sauce and melty cheese, there’s no reason for the extra step—or the extra fat and calories. This dish involves luscious layers of nutrition and loads of cheesy goodness with a sneaky omega-3 crunch from walnuts. You can certainly skip the superfood breadcrumbs if you’re short on time, but I’m telling you, these garlic-infused walnut breadcrumbs in between each layer brings each bite over the top. Guys, this is a must-try, melt-in-your-mouth indulgence!  

  • Prep time
  • Total Time
This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings
  • • 2 large eggplants (about 2 ½ pounds total)
  • • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • • 1 jar (24 ounces) marinara
  • • 2½ cups part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

Walnut Breadcrumbs

  • • 1 heaping cup walnuts, crushed in a zip-top bag
  • • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole grain
  • • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • • ½ teaspoon each black pepper
  • • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder

Trim off the stem ends and slice the eggplants into rounds, about ½-inch thick slices. Lay them out on a baking sheet lined with paper towels (or on a rack over a sheet pan). Salt the eggplant slices on both sides to release some of the moisture. (Tip: salt 1st side, let it sit for a minute and start releasing water. Then flip to the other side. The salt will stick to the 1st side and won’t fall off in the turn). Allow to sit undisturbed for 30 to 60 minutes to remove excess moisture.

While the eggplant sits prepare the garlicky walnut breadcrumbs:

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the walnuts and Panko breadcrumbs to the dry pan and stir until crumbs are toasted and walnuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then stir in 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder, ½ teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 to 2 tablespoons dried basil until everything is well combined. Pour crumbs from the hot pan into a mixing bowl. Stir in the Parmesan and set aside to cool. (Note: Do not add the parmesan cheese to the heated sauté pan or it will start to melt and clump together.)

Blot the eggplant slices dry with additional paper towels, pressing away as much liquid (and salt) as possible. Place them back on the trays and sprinkle the tops with 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and ½ teaspoon black pepper.

Mist the inside of the slow cooker with olive oil spray. Spread ½ cup marinara sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant rounds, enough to cover the bottom, some overlap is fine. Scatter ½ cup of walnut breadcrumbs over the eggplant. Distribute ¼ cup marinara sauce over the crumbs, followed by ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese. Repeat this sequence (eggplant, walnut breadcrumbs, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese) for two more layers. You will have a total of three delicious layers. Reserve the remaining breadcrumbs for sprinkling on the finished dish right before serving.

Cover with lid and cook on high for 2½ to 3½ hours. Machines will vary, so check after 2½ hours to see if your eggplant is tender (cut through the stack using a sharp knife). If it still feels somewhat tough, cook for another 30 minutes and repeat the test.

When it’s done, allow to sit uncovered for about 20 minutes to set. Transfer to plates and sprinkle the rest of the walnut breadcrumbs on top as garnish.

NOTE: To cook in the oven, omit the salting step (this is only done for my slow cooker recipe to help draw out some moisture from the eggplant to offset excess moisture that’s generated in the slow cooker. Assemble as described above in a casserole dish but reserve the final layer of cheese and breadcrumbs. It should look like this:

• First layer: sauce on the bottom, eggplant slices, breadcrumbs, sauce, cheese.

• Second layer:  eggplant slices, breadcrumbs, sauce, cheese

• Third layer: eggplant slices and sauce

Cook, covered, for 45 minutes at 375˚. Remove from oven, uncover and sprinkle on the final layer of cheese and breadcrumbs. Place back in the oven and cook for 15 more minutes until the cheese is melted and breadcrumbs and browned.

Try these Chicken Parm Meatballs!