Makes 4 servings: 1 “steak” each
Chicken Parmesan is one of those Italian comfort foods that seems like it might not be overly caloric. But the chicken is usually breaded and fried—which gives the dish a greasy start before anything else is added. The goal here was to create an entrée that was a little lighter but still luscious and loaded with texture and plant-based pleasure. This lovable (and slightly larger!) result made with a thick, caramelized, steak-like portion of cauliflower will amaze you and your palate. It’ll impress guests. The bonus: It’s really simple to prepare. Savor this vegetarian comfort food along with a protein rich appetizer or side, like organic edamame, Italian baked tofu, bean salad, or roasted chicken. If you prefer going for a grain, whole wheat couscous is an ideal pairing. Enjoy it … often!
Calories Saved: 450
4 (1-inch thick) whole slices from a large (2 pound or larger) head cauliflower* (about 6 1/2 ounces per slice)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary + rosemary sprigs for garnish
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 1/3 cups marinara sauce of choice
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 (3/4-ounce) slices organic whole-milk mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
1/8 teaspoon dried hot pepper flakes, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Brush the cauliflower “steaks” with the olive oil and arrange on a large baking sheet. Roast until lightly caramelized and the cauliflower florets are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Gently flip over each “steak” and sprinkle with the minced rosemary, salt, and pepper. Top each with the marinara sauce, garlic, mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and hot pepper flakes. Roast until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown and the cauliflower stems are cooked through yet slightly firm (al dente), about 18 minutes.
- Adjust seasoning, garnish with the rosemary sprigs, and serve as an entrée.
*With a chef’s knife, slice down from the top of the cauliflower head down through the stem end. Use the largest center slices for this dish. If unable to find a large head of cauliflower, cut slightly thicker slices from 2 medium heads, 2 slices each. Reserve the remaining cauliflower for other use.
Per serving: 200 calories, 10g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 20g cholesterol, 740mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate, 5g dietary fiber, 9g sugar, 11g protein
The “Before” Recipe
Makes 4 serving: 1 chicken breast each
1/4 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
4 (5-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 (1-ounce) slices whole-milk mozzarella cheese
2 cups marinara sauce of choice
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Whisk together the milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Measure the breadcrumbs onto a plate or into an 8-inch round pan.
- Season the chicken breasts with the garlic salt and pepper. Dip the chicken breasts in the milk mixture to fully coat. Dip both sides of each breast into the breadcrumbs to fully coat.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken (in batches, if necessary) until golden brown, about 3 1/2 minutes per side. Arrange the chicken in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Reserve the oil.
- Top each chicken breast with 1 slice of the mozzarella cheese. Pour the marinara sauce on top. Drizzle with any of the remaining olive oil from the skillet. Top with the remaining 4 slices of mozzarella and the Parmesan cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes. Serve.
Per serving: 650 calories, 37 total fat, 12g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 225mg cholesterol, 1560mg sodium, 27g total carbohydrate, 3g dietary fiber, 9g sugars, 51g protein
- Create caramelization and let the natural flavors become bolder by roasting instead of frying
- Go for a hearty, high-textured vegetable that can provide as much satisfaction as meat or poultry–especially since you can go bigger when you go for a veggie
- Pick a fresh herb (preferably from your own garden!) and make it an integral part of the recipe
- Be sure to use a marinara sauce that you enjoy; the quality and flavor of every ingredient counts
- Don’t go too far when reducing calories. For instance, keep real whole-milk cheese to maintain a luscious cheesiness. And don’t just melt the cheese; aim for browning for a boost of flavor and eye appeal
- Sprinkle with a hint of hot pepper flakes for a taste-lifting finish