Eggplant Parmesan Bite Pasta Bowls are easier than you think to make, and oh so good. This is a Sunday supper worth making twice.
I’ve always loved eggplant parmesan, but it used to be quite a rare thing to find me cooking it at home. The whole operation of putting each individual slice of eggplant through flour, and then egg, and finally breading, was time consuming. And then I could never fit more than a few slices of eggplant in the skillet. So the first batch went cold as I added yet more oil and cooked the second and third batches (all while trying to keep the temperature of the skillet perfectly even so nothing burned along the way). It was just a really lengthy, really messy process for me.
That has all changed, though, since I started making these penne pasta bowls with eggplant parmesan bites.
This dish is super easy and foolproof, and that makes it just my kind of recipe!
I quickly dice up an Italian eggplant (an Italian eggplant is about half the size of the typical American eggplant, and perfectly portioned for this recipe). Then I use a large slotted spoon to transfer the ‘bites’, all in one big batch, from flour to egg to breading.
I spread them out on a baking sheet, and let the oven do all of the work of turning them golden and crispy (the key to getting them toasted and browned: make sure they’re well coated with olive oil!)
That frees me up to grate some fresh parmesan cheese, cook some penne pasta, and throw together a quick and easy veggie marinara sauce. I just sauté some onion and bell pepper with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and add a jarred marinara. This quick marinara means that the sauce is ready to go by the time the eggplant parmesan bites have finished cooking.
Last step: just toss everything into serving bowls, and top each one with plenty of the grated parmesan! It’s all very straightforward and simple, so the process of cooking the dish is actually pretty fun. And, no question, the bite-sized breaded eggplant pieces make this dish a lot of fun to eat too!
The seasonings in the crispy breading make the eggplant bites so scrumptious, and they’re perfectly complemented by the freshly grated parmesan. And the sautéed onions and peppers in the marinara sauce really help to bulk up the dish (and add tons of nutrition!), so you can help yourself to a generous portion of this pasta without crazy amounts of calories. Those old days of avoiding eggplant parmesan are so long gone – this dish is just too fun and easy!
We absolutely love this dish! Pair it with some crusty rosemary roasted garlic bread and a salad with homemade caesar dressing.
- 1 Italian Eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes (or use 1/2 of a large American eggplant)
- 1/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
- 1 Egg, preferrably organic, pastured
- 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Panko Crumbs
- 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 tablespoon Onion Powder
- 1 tablespoon Dried Thyme
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, plus 1 teaspoon
- 10 ounces Whole Wheat Penne, organic
- 1 small Onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium Orange Bell Pepper, thinly sliced (or yellow bell pepper)
- 1 1/2 cups Marinara Sauce, organic
- 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, or parsley, chopped (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Arrange breading station: place flour on one large plate or platter. Place egg in a large mixing bowl and whisk with a fork. Place panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme in a separate mixing bowl or platter, and stir until well combined.
Use hands to toss diced eggplant, all in one batch, through flour until every piece is lightly coated with flour.
Transfer eggplant bites to mixing bowl containing egg. Use a large slotted spoon to carefully mix eggplant with egg, until every piece is lightly coated with egg.
Use slotted spoon to transfer diced eggplant to breadcrumb mixture. Use hands to toss eggplant through breadcrumbs until every piece is well coated.
Transfer breaded eggplant to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out the pieces so that no two are overlapping. Wash hands.
Season eggplant bites thoroughly with salt and pepper. Measure two tablespoons of olive oil and carefully pour over eggplant, ensuring each piece is lightly coated with oil.
Cook for about 17-20 minutes, or until eggplant bites are golden-brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, as eggplant is cooking, boil a large pot of water. Salt the water and add penne pasta. Cook about 7-8 minutes, or until just al dente, and drain.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add jarred marinara, stir until well combined, and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
Transfer penne, veggie marinara, parmesan bites, and 2/3 cup parmesan to a large mixing bowl. Carefully stir until combined. Transfer pasta to serving bowls and top with remaining parmesan. Add chopped basil or parsley (optional), and serve.