Main Dishes | Recipes

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

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We love Eggplant Parmesan, but used to avoid it because of it’s reputation for being loaded with carbs and calories. And, traditional eggplant parmesan has breaded and fried eggplant making it NOT gluten-free. 

The truth is that eggplant is a very healthy food and Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan doesn’t have to be full of calories or gluten. Baked eggplant slathered with fresh pasta sauce and a little bit of cheese can be healthy and delicious.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

Before we start, there are a few things you need to know about eggplants. They are best served fresh. If you have a garden, pick them on the day you plan to use them. If purchased from a grocery store, buy them only when in season and then refrigerate in a plastic bag for a few days. 

Where eggplants are concerned size matters. Larger eggplants tend towards bitterness. Smaller eggplants don’t. There are lots of opinions about male vs. female eggplants. I don’t really know the whole story on this, but this I do know: Eggplants with oval blossom ends that are slightly indented will have more seeds than blossom ends that are round and smooth. Think in terms of innie {more seeds} and outie {fewer seeds}. The more seeds, the greater your chances are of getting a bitter eggplant. 

These innies came from my garden. Notice that the blossom ends are oval and indented. That means that they may have more seeds that could cause bitterness. Since they are fresh and smaller, that will likely not be the case.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

To peel or not to peel, that is the eggplant question. Personally, I prefer peeled because there is less chance of bitterness. If you have a fresh-off-the-vine eggplant it is likely not to be bitter. However, for presentation, unpeeled looks the best.

Now that you have chosen your eggplants, let’s get started. This is a simple meal that can be made ahead for later in the week or frozen for up to three months. I’ve created a printable recipe below.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

TThe key to excellent Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan is salting the eggplant slices and then giving it time to let the salt draw out the liquid. The second key: Knowing the difference between a ‘male’ and ‘female’ eggplant. Both of these secrets will make the most heavenly Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan you’ve ever tasted.

You will notice that I've borrowed from my lasagne recipe for adding the cheese. This is one of the keys to this recipe being so delicious. Remember, real food takes time ~ but it is so worth the effort. Also, this recipe works best in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Although individual stacks look much better for presentation.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Inactive Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants {choose 'outies' with rounded, smooth bottoms for fewer seeds}
  • 2 Medium Jars Pasta Sauce (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Container Ricotta Cheese (15 oz.)
  • 1 C. Shredded Mozzerella Cheese (divided in half)
  • 1 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1/4 C. Fresh Basil
  • 1/4 C. Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400-degrees.
  2. Peel eggplant (optional) and slice into 1/4" slices. It is not absolute that you peel the eggplant. You can leave them unpeeled and just cut them into 1/4” slices. Oversized and less-than-fresh eggplant will be less bitter if they are peeled. {Personally, I hate the peel.}
  3. Salt the eggplant slices and let them drain in a colander for about an hour. This will remove most of the bitterness.
  4. Once the eggplant has released its water, rinse and set on a baking sheet. Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes (depending on the thickness of your slices). You want the slices to be softened, but not mushy.
  5. While the eggplant is baking, blend the cheese mixture. Add Ricotta, 1/2 C. Mozzarella, Parmesan, eggs, and basil. Blend well and set aside.
  6. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
  7. Spread 1 C. of Pasta Sauce on bottom of pan.
  8. Place a layer of eggplant in the bottom of the pan. Cover with 1 Cup of the pasta sauce. Spread half of cheese mixture to top of the sauce.
  9. Repeat this layer of eggplant, pasta sauce, and the rest of the cheese mixture.
  10. Add final layer of eggplant, cover with 1 C. Pasta Sauce and top with remaining grated mozzarella cheese.
  11. Cover and put in oven for 30-40 minutes (depending on the thickness of your eggplant slices). You will know it's ready to uncover when it's bubbling and sizzling. {Note: The time is so inexact because your eggplant slices may be thicker than mine. Use a fork to check for tenderness}
  12. Uncover and bake for another 10 minutes to brown.
  13. Let stand another 10 minutes before serving.

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

If you want to try making the Eggplant Stacks follow the steps until you get to the part where you assemble the dish. Instead, you will line the bottom of the pan with sauce then create individual layered stacks. Use the same order of ingredients to your stacks.

Carefully assemble each stack using similarly sized eggplant slices. Bake for about 30-40 minutes and then check for tenderness. The key is having thicker slices that are all about the same size. It takes a lot of practice to get pretty stacks. And, you waste a lot of the smaller eggplant slices.

Bon Appétit


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9 Comments

  1. I am in a dinner group for vegetarians. And now it turned into Gluten free. I am not a vegertainan or on a Gluten free diet. We meet once a month, each person brings a part of the meal. I am doing the dinner at my house and want to make eggplant parmesan. I think your recipe looks good, and I want it to be safe, so I am doing it for the one person in the group that became gluten free. We all feel her pain, so eat it with her.

    This is a dinner for 8. I am thinking you would suggest doubling your eggplant recipe and the sauce too? Or just the eggplant part of it?

    I am thinking I would prefer to grill the eggplant on the BBQ instead of the oven. Have you tried this?

    Jane

    1. Yes, double the recipe ~ I do it all the time. I’ve also grilled my eggplant on a stove-top grill. I’m sure the BBQ would work, as well. Let me know how it turns out.

  2. Can you believe I’ve never tried eggplant? I need to change that soon. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe at “The Saturday Spotlight party”!
    Have a great weekend and hope to see you at this weeks party!

    April

  3. This was a delicious recipe and it freezes really well. With my husband being lactose intolerant and me being gluten free it worked out perfectly since he can handle Parmesan cheese just fine. Thank you!

  4. This looks delicious! I like eggplant but never cook it because I’m just not sure how to cook it. This recipe looks easy and I like the idea of being able to freeze it too. Going to store today, adding to my list. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  5. I had a terrible experience with eggplant when young; the most bitter eggplant was used in a beloved recipe of one of my grandmothers and I didn’t want anything to do with it after the first tasting. Then forward 45 years and we dined out at a great Italian restaurant and had eggplant parmesan and it was delicious. Thank you so much for this recipe. I will definitely be taking to our monthly potblessing at our church.

  6. I love eggplant– but don’t have enough experience cooking with it to know to look for an innie or an outie 🙂 I guess I will have to check that out when I am shopping today! This looks delicious– going to try this weekend.

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