gluten free eggplant parm

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I love turning dishes that my Grandmother made and my Mom still makes into dishes my whole family loves and I can still eat. I turned this Italian classic into a favorite gluten free dish, that not anyone, not even my Father can tell the difference. This Gluten Free Eggplant Parm is a hot commodity and It’s worth making a really big batch, because leftovers are even better.

There is also these feelings of comfort when you are making a recipe that your Mom makes and her Mom made and down the line of tradition it goes. We don’t have to tell anyone that my daughter told me it was better than Ma’s (that is what she calls her Grandmother). My Mom is the best teacher I have in cooking and in life.

I am going to give you a recipe that will feed a family of five with some leftovers, but I would recommend doubling it and freezing any leftover Marinara sauce for later. You can also give yourself a break and use a good quality bottled Marinara sauce. This a big time saver that will still create a delicious dish.

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The most time consuming part of making this dish is breading the eggplant. my hack for making this gluten free and without unhealthy ingredients is to used Erewhon brown rice cereal. It makes the most amazing breading for any Italian dish.

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The finished breaded eggplant is also great to eat as is…sometimes it’s hard to have enough with everyone nibbling before I have a chance to put it all together! I also use these to make Eggplant Stacks, layered with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and proscuitto finished with a balsamic vinaigrette.

When you grow up in a big Italian family, gluten is a big deal and to be honest, not easy to avoid. I think, actually I know that I have done an amazing job of recreating my families favorite recipes into gluten free heaven without trading on taste. I’m not going to lie, every once in awhile, I miss a warm loaf of Italian bread, but other than that, I’m ok with my pasta and pizza creations and wouldn’t change this lifestyle for a minute.

What makes me smile most are those big family parties where the whole spread is gluten free and no one can tell! This Eggplant parm is a great main dish with a big green salad or as a side served with a piece of steak or chicken. It is just a little time consuming, but not hard and perfect for a make ahead meal to throw in the oven later in the day or later in the week.

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What you will need

  • 3 medium size eggplant

  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs

  • 3 eggs

  • 2 (28 ounce cans whole organic tomatoes)

  • Olive oil

  • 1 small onion

  • 1 handful fresh chopped basil

  • 1 log fresh mozzarella ( if you want it cheesey, you may need extra)

For the breaded eggplant

  • Take box of Ewewhon brown rice cereal and place in a food processor. Pulse until fine crumbs form.

  • Add favorite seasonings, I use (for 2 cups) 1 tsp. parsley, 1 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper. (garlic powder optional)

  • Store extra breadcrumbs in a sealed container. Place 2 cups on a sheet of parchment paper.

  • In a shallow bowl, whisk 3 eggs to make egg wash for dipping

  • Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch slices

  • Dip each slice into egg wash, then breadcrumb mixture and place on a baking sheet with a generous layer of olive oil.

  • Bake in a 400°F oven for 20 minutes, then turn eggplant and cook for an additional 20 minutes. (You want eggplant to be browned on each side)

  • When eggplant is cooked through, take out of oven to cool

For the Marinara sauce

  • In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion, season with salt and pepper.

  • . Cook until the onions become translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add canned tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break up some of the whole tomatoes and cook 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time. Taste for seasoning, the tomatoes should be fairly broken down and the flavors coming together. Cook for another few minutes if the tomatoes still taste like they need a little more time to break down. If you like a less chunky sauce, use an immersion blender to combine ingredients.

  • Add handful of fresh chopped basil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To Assemble

  • In a 9 by 13-inch flameproof baking dish ( you may need 2), spoon about 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom. 

  • You are going to make 16 or so individual eggplant “sandwiches” I love to do it this way so everyone can take a piece with all of the ingredients intact.

  • Place 1 layer of eggplant slices on bottom of baking dish, Then add sliced piece of fresh mozzarella cheese, followed by another slice of egglpant.

  • After all “sandwiches are made, scoop more marinara sauce over each piece and top with a small chunk of cheese.

  • Before serving, Bake on 400°F for 15-20 minutes, to warm through and melt cheese.

  • For extra browning, put the dish under the broiler for a minute or two just before serving to get an extra brown cheesy top.

  • Top with additional fresh basil before serving.