The vegetable cornucopia spilleth over at this time of year, and I have been looking for any excuse to get creative, vegetably-speaking. One dish that I have thought about in the years since my celiac diagnosis, but have never tried (just never dedicated the time to it, to be honest), is Eggplant Parmesan. Complicating life for many of us on a gluten-free diet is that we need to avoid dairy. So, how exactly does one make gluten-free, dairy-free Eggplant Parmesan??? Well, quite easily and deliciously, it turns out!
There are finally some choices on the market for us in the dairy-free department, companies like Sheese®, Follow Your Heart’s Vegan Gourmet® line and Galaxy Nutritional Foods® Rice and Rice Vegan cheeses all offer mozzarella flavors. As far as gluten-free goes, that’s the easy part!
Grab yourself a nice size eggplant, some Bufala mozzarella or a dairy-free cheese option (pictured here), a bottle of Chianti or another lovely red, and you have yourself a delicious Italian meal!
- 1 large eggplant (1 1/2 – 1 3/4 pounds)
- 1 1/2+ cup dry bread crumbs, finely ground*
- 1/2 cup Jules Gluten Free™ All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk, dairy or nondairy (Blue Diamond® Almond Breeze)
- High heat oil for frying
*To make breadcrumbs, take that hard loaf of GF bread out of your freezer, cut it in thirds, pulse one third in a food processor, then pour onto a baking sheet and toast in a 300F oven for 10 minutes, or until crispy. What a great use for the nasty store-bought GF bread we all have in deep freeze! If you prefer tastier crumbs, follow my Sandwich Bread Recipe, bake, cut and toast as described above. The best results really do start with the best ingredients!)
- 1 jar pasta or marinara sauce, gluten-free (32 ounces)
- 16 ounces fresh Bufala mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced, or nondairy mozzarella (Galaxy Nutritional Foods® Rice Vegan Mozzarella Flavor)
- 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, dairy or nondairy (Galaxy Nutritional Foods® Vegan Grated Topping)
- Fresh basil leaves for layering in the dish
Wash eggplant and peel stripes in the skin, vertically, then cut lengthwise 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices.
Arrange one layer of cut eggplant slices in the bowl of a large colander; sprinkle evenly with salt.
Repeat this process with the remaining slices, layering until all eggplant is in the colander. Place 2-3 heavy plates on top of the slices and set aside to help the eggplant release some moisture prior to cooking.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Remove each slice of eggplant and press between two paper towels to remove any remaining water and wipe off any excess salt. Prepare two wide, shallow bowls: one with breadcrumbs, flour, salt, and pepper; the other with egg and milk. Whisk each well.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1/4 inch of oil to preheat. When heated, dip both sides of the eggplant slices in the egg-milk bowl, then coat them both thoroughly in the flour-breadcrumb bowl.
Gently lay each coated slice into hot oil and fry until golden brown (usually only 1-2 minutes per side), flipping to fry on both sides. Remove to drain on paper towels while finishing the remaining slices.
Prepare a large 13 x 9-inch (or larger) baking dish by lightly spraying with cooking oil. Pour one-third of the marinara sauce, then layer one-third of the fried eggplant slices. Top eggplant with half of the mozzarella slices. Lay one basil leaf atop each circle of mozzarella then sprinkle with one-third of the Parmesan; repeat layers two more times.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.