Our gluten free eggplant Parmesan is very popular at the farmer’s market and we are very appreciative of that. The method I use to make it came about because I try to avoid deep-frying in the kitchen. Those lingering aromas are not what I want to live with long after the dish is gone.
There are many recipes that call for you to prepare eggplant by sprinkling the slices in salt then leaving them to release all the bitterness found in the vegetable. The next thing you have to do is to dry them off, before covering them in breadcrumbs, frying and adding them to your dish. It seems to me that all you achieve is to fill those spongy eggplant slices with added salt and give yourself a lot of work to do.
I need to confess to being a bit of a lazy cook. My plan when I started making eggplant Parmesan, was to make the process as efficient and clean as possible. So, I got to thinking about those eggplant and decided that what I really needed to do was to bake them until they were either browning, drying or both. And this is the process that I have adopted for years and it works for me.
First of all, our eggplant Parmesan is gluten free because I didn’t go through the process of all that messy breading. For me, and it is my personal taste, I don’t much enjoy a stodgy eggplant Parmesan. Secondly, I believe it is much more healthy without frying a bunch of breaded eggplant slices in oil. Once you have added all that extra oil, it has nowhere to go but to stay in the dish itself. Your eggplant parmesan doesn’t need to be oily.
My layers of gluten free eggplant parmesan go like this:
- We cover the bottom of the pan with extra virgin olive oil, topped with a thin layer of homemade tomato sauce and we top that with slices of baked eggplant.
- The next layer is a thin layer of tomato sauce and sprinkling of grated Parmesan before adding the next layer of eggplant.
- We repeat Number 2 until the pan is completely filled to the top leaving just enough room for a thin layer of tomato sauce and final sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
- The whole thing is covered in foil and baked for 1 hour. We then remove the foil, top the eggplant parmesan with mozzarella and allow that to melt in the oven for about 15 minutes (with the oven off).
- When cool enough to handle, we cover the dish and refrigerate it overnight to allow all of the flavors to settle and for it to set. The eggplant will absorb the sauce which will make it easier to cut the following day.
Pasta Nostra USA Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan – Serves 4 – 8
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 medium eggplant
- 3 – 4 pints of your favorite tomato sauce (cooked – don’t use tomatoes straight from a can)
- 3 – 4 oz Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese, grated
- Preheat the oven to 425F.
- Line each of your oven shelves with foil.
- Top and tail the eggplant and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
- In a single layer, place the eggplant slices onto the foiled oven shelves and cook for 30 minutes. The slices may not be browned but that is OK.
- Have a baking tray ready for stacking those eggplant slices. Using a pair of tongs, lift each slice, turn it over and place in the baking tray. Simply pile the eggplant slices onto one another and set aside.
- Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of a deep roasting pan. Top with with a layer of tomato sauce just enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Arrange a layer of eggplant over the sauce. Top the eggplant with a thin layer of tomato sauce and sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Now add another layer of eggplant, tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Continue in this way finishing with a thin layer of tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese.
- Cover the dish in foil and place in the center of the oven for 1 hour.
- When cooked, remove the foil and top the eggplant Parmesan with mozzarella. Turn off the oven and place the dish back into the oven until the mozzarella has melted.
- If you are serving it on the same day, allow it to rest for up to 20 minutes before slicing.
- If you are preparing it ahead of time, when the dish is cool enough to handle, cover in seran wrap and place in the fridge where it will keep for up to 5 days.