Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

I found a great recipe the other day for Eggplant Parmesan so I thought I would share it.  Before going gluten-free, I always liked the Eggplant Parmesan at the Olive Garden, thinly sliced and crispy, topped with marinara, shredded mozzarella and fresh grated Parmesan… yummy.

I don’t know about you, but I have never had great luck making my own Eggplant Parmesan, it always ended up with a rather undesirable mushy texture.  I came across a technique in the following recipe that totally eliminated that mushiness.  One thing that I did not do for this batch, but will definitely do next time, was peel the eggplant.  We didn’t care for the cooked eggplant skin at all.  Click here for some info on working with eggplants.

I got this recipe from AllRecipes.com, you can find the original recipe here.  I will also list the original recipe on my blog with my GF tweaks/suggestions in red.

One last thought, if you are allergic to or avoid Nightshades, I think this recipe would also be great using zucchini slices instead of eggplant and replacing the tomato based spaghetti sauce with this tomato-free marinara sauce.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

3 Eggplants, peeled and thinly sliced (I only used 1 eggplant and sliced it with a mandolin. I love my mandolin, just be careful… very sharp! 😉 )

2 Eggs, beaten (I used the eggs, but you could also use water if you have an egg allergy)

4 cups Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs (I used Cracker Crumbs that I crushed from Ener-G Crackers in my food processor, then I added about 2 Tbs. of Italian Seasoning)

6 cups Spaghetti Sauce, divided (Make sure it is Gluten-Free)

1 16-ounce package Shredded Mozzarella, divided (I have been hearing great things on Daiya Vegan Cheese, it is not only dairy-free, but soy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, corn-free, rice-free and nut-free as well! I am waiting on my shipment* (see below) to arrive to do a review!)

1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese (I’ve read a few good reviews on this dairy-free version of Parmesan Cheese, called Parma! Vegan Parmesan)

1/2 tsp. Dried Basil

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  • Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs (or cracker crumb/Italian Seasoning mixture). Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
  • In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you use a mandolin… USE the guard, it is there for a reason!!  I have a few ER bills to prove it too! 😉  I really like the mandolin, you get nice, uniform, and thin slices.

Cover your eggplant slices in cold water until you are ready to use them to prevent browning.

I just had to showcase my new eggs that I got in my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Los Poblanos Organics in Albuquerque.  Aren’t they pretty? 😀

I have never seen a store-bought egg this vibrant in color!

We really like these crackers, although I wish they came in a smaller size.  They remind me of a day-old Saltine, with no salt.  The Ener-G Crackers are a staple in our house and we use them to make cheese and crackers, peanut butter and crackers or even top with homemade garlic butter (Earth Balance that I add some Garlic Powder to) and have in place of bread with meals.  You can read the ingredients here.  They are gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free and rice-free.  They do contain corn, soy and yeast though.

To 4 cups of cracker crumbs, I added 2 Tbs. of Dried Italian Seasoning.

After dredging the eggplant in egg (or water) and the Italian cracker crumbs, lay the slices on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes on each side in a 350° F. oven.  Do not skip this step, it makes a BIG difference in the final texture!

In a 9 x 13″ pan, begin with spaghetti sauce (I used a bottled Puttanesca sauce with olives and capers),

add a layer of oven-baked eggplant slices,

top with shredded mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese, then repeat layers until you use up all the ingredients.

Top with dried basil and bake at 350° F. for 35 minutes.

This turned out VERY well (it got a 4 1/2 star rating out of 1,148 reviews on AllRecipes.com!). Mike thought it was one of the best Eggplant Parmesan’s he had ever had… even Luke, my “if it ain’t chocolate, I will fight you all the way to the bitter end” boy liked it!

* Daiya Vegan Cheese Note:

I recently received an email from Daiya about store availability:

Hello Heidi,

Thank you for your interest in Daiya and our deliciously dairy free cheese.

We currently do not produce a retail packaged product.  However, the wait is nearly over as our retail product will hit the shelves of Whole Foods at the end of March.

We received a national listing, so it will reach all stores, timing will however depend on the individual store location.

Thanks again and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Regards,

Ryan Bennett

Vice President Sales & Marketing

I have made my own GF bread crumbs for years and prior to that, I bought the store-bought GF bread crumbs, but the end result in whatever I used them for, was never what I had hoped for, regardless of the cooking method I used. This was the first time I used cracker crumbs and I really think that had something to do with the great texture. I believe this so much, that I made up a huge container today to start using in place of GF bread crumbs.

If you are new to the gluten-free diet, or new to cooking more at home, I cannot recommend enough to invest in a deep freezer! I could not do what I do to make feeding a GF family of four cost effective without one (and I have two!). I store my less used GF flours, cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, etc. in the deep freezer to keep them “fresh.” This makes buying in bulk work. Might be something to consider as tax-return time is here!

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11 Responses

  1. Great looking eggplant recipe and you documented it very well. I love how you took photos at each stage.

  2. Gee, that looks great, am I invited for dinner?

  3. YUM.

    Eggplant Parm is one of my faves… I like the way you did this dredging, coating, THEN roasting, THEN making the parm….

    I usually roast the eggplant first, then put it together (although, i’ve been making it low-cal-ish, by no egg or carbs, just sauce and cheese). but this must make things a little easier!

    thanks

  4. I just had eggplant parm for dinner tonight! I didn’t bread mine, but it still tasted great! Love the cracker crumb idea!

  5. This looks delicious! So you know we are new to the gf world…I didn’t even think about marinara sauce have gluten!? Are there certain “regular” brands that aren’t?

    • Tai,

      I have never personally encountered a spaghetti sauce with a gluten-containing ingredient, however there are many more moving parts that one needs to consider. I am working on a post about navigating the grocery store and all the questions that one needs to consider when choosing a “safe” product. I thought I could whip it out in an evening but I want to make sure I connect everyone to reliable resources so that might take me a day or two. Off the top of my head, I know Classico Spaghetti Sauces are labeled gluten-free, but I will follow up with more options soon.

      Great question, BTW!!!

  6. I have never commented on your page before but I read it religiously. I was diagnosed about 6 months ago and I have learned so much from you. Prior to this…I was an eggplant parm specialist. I wanted to share a few things with you that you might be interested in. First, always peel, second, cost the eggplant with a thin layer of salt and let sit for a while. Then drain and rinse gently. This will remove the sometimes bitter taste. I usually coat mine with flour (better batter works great!) then egg, then bread crumbs. Makes a crispier crust. Then I fry them but I might try baking for the lower fat content. I layer them with sauce, eggplant, ricotta blend (like lasagna) then eggplant, sauce, cheese. We love the ricotta in the middle. So yummy. I think I will make it tomorrow…thanks again for all of the helpful tips!!

    • Thanks Becci!! I am so glad my silly blog has been helpful for you! I often wonder, just how goofy I come across to my readers (which I am still dumbfounded that it has gone much beyond my family). Over the years, I have adopted the attitude of “you just gotta laugh” at this crazy and often confusing lifestyle we have found ourselves in! If I don’t laugh, I just might start crying and never stop! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing your Eggplant Parm method too, I will have to try it! I personally do not care for ricotta cheese (it’s a texture thing), but always sub cottage cheese instead (I do that in my lasagna too). It makes sense about the salt method to draw the moisture out of the eggplant, I discovered that technique this past summer when I made homemade pickles for the first time. I agree on peeling the eggplant too, another texture thing! It is very exciting for me to learn from others, thank you so much for sharing (and reading my blog)!

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