Eggplant Parmesan Gluten-Free

Eggplant Parmesan

This year I finally nailed a great eggplant parm recipe that's not bitter or soggy or tough. Not gonna lie – this recipe is a lot of a whole lot. You have to start a few hours ahead of time, you'll dirty a bunch of dishes, and you'll need to wipe-up little droplets of spattered oil from the cooktop. It's probably not very healthy either; what with the olive oil and cheese. 

But it tastes AMAZING. So maybe not great on a Tuesday night; but perfect to wow vegetarian dinner guests or fritter away a rainy September Sunday. 

So here's what you'll be getting yourself into: marinating, making a tomato sauce, breading and frying, and finally layering everything in a baking dish. 

You'll need
For the tomato sauce
2 Tb butter
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp dried oregano
    1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
    2 Tb fresh basil, chopped

For the gluten-free bread crumbs
    3 cups gluten-free crispy rice cereal
    3/4 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp oregano
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
    1/4 tsp black pepper
    Pinch or two of cayenne pepper
    1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

For the eggplant
     2 large eggplants
     Salt & pepper
     1 egg
     1/2 cup Olive oil (for pan frying)
     1 mozzarella ball (8 oz)
     1 cup Fontina cheese, shredded

1. At least 2 hours before cooking, cut eggplant lengthwise into thin slices, less than 0.25" thick. You'll need 16 slices to make 2 layers in a 9"x13" baking dish. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper (use about 1 tsp of salt total) and lay slices on paper towels to soak up the moisture.

2. Cook the tomato sauce. Finely chop a small onion and mince 2 small cloves garlic. Add 2 Tb butter to saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed pepper. Stir until fragrant then add crushed tomatoes. Cover and heat over low heat while you prepare the other ingredients. Add fresh, chopped basil right before you top the eggplant.

3. Make gluten-free "bread crumb" mixture. Combine gluten-free crispy rice cereal and seasonings in food processor. Grind until mixture looks like sand. Pour into a shallow plate, such as a pie plate, and stir in the 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

4.  Preheat oven to 350° and begin breading the eggplant. In a shallow plate, whisk one egg. Dip each eggplant slice in the egg (flipping to ensure coverage on both sides), then place in the bread crumbs, pressing down on the eggplant so breadcrumbs stick. Layout each breaded slice flat on a sheet pan until you are ready to begin frying. 

5. Fry time! Pour olive oil into a non-stick skillet. Use enough olive oil to completely coat the pan. Heat over medium heat and add eggplant slices – I can fit four slices in my pan. Flip after 2-3 minutes, once the breading has become a crisp golden brown. Set aside while you fry the rest in batches. You'll need to add more oil after each batch. After cooking a few batches, you may need to clean out the burnt crumby bits with a paper towel. 

6. Layer 8 slices of fried eggplant in a 9"x13" baking dish. Remember to add the fresh basil to your tomato sauce, then spoon sauce over the center of each slice, leaving the ends crispy. Add a slice of mozzarella and a sprinkle of fontina cheese to each. Repeat for the 2nd layer. 

7. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes  at 350°. 

Serves 5 people
Prep time: 60 minutes
Bake time: 25 minutes at 350°     

Step 1 salt eggplant and allow moisture to drain
bread eggplant

pan fry eggplant


layering eggplant parmesan