My mom makes the ULTIMATE eggplant parm with all the good stuff (Italian bread crumbs, eggplant fried in olive oil & tons of cheese). Growing up, this was a serious comfort food and family favorite. My version is reimagined for clients with gluten and dairy sensitivities but with all the deliciousness of the original: super crispy breaded eggplant layered with luscious homemade marinara and vegan mozzarella.
Serves 4-6 people.
3 medium eggplants, peeled & sliced into 1/4" thick rounds
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped fine
1 tsp salt, to taste
1 tsp pepper, to taste
3 large eggs
8 oz. vegan mozzarella, shredded (I used Lisanatti Foods brand)
1 bunch basil
1/4 cup shredded vegan parmesan (I used Follow Your Heart brand)
Super Simple Marinara Sauce
1 small onion, diced finely
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped fine
Preheat your oven to 400F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silpads.
Lay the peeled and sliced eggplant on a drying rack or cutting board. Sprinkle the eggplant with a little bit of salt on both sides. Allow it to rest for 15-20 minutes. You will start to see little beads of bitter liquid on the surface of the eggplant. Dry the eggplant well with paper towel and set aside.
In one bowl add the gluten-free bread crumbs, basil, salt & pepper and stir to combine. In another bowl add your eggs with a little bit of water (1 Tbsp or so). Dredge the dried eggplant slices in egg and then in the bread crumb mixture and place on the lined sheet pans. Repeat with the remaining slices of eggplant. Bake the breaded eggplant for 25-30 minutes, or until brown and crispy. Flip slices half way through baking to insure they are golden brown on both sides.
Meanwhile, in a sauce pan over medium heat, sautée the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the minced garlic to the onion party and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add in the crushed tomatoes and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook to thicken the sauce, around 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and add your basil.
In a 9 x 14" baking dish (or two 6 Cup Rectangular Pyrex) layer the baked eggplant, marinara, mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. Repeat for the remainder of the layers. Finish the dish with the vegan parmesan. Bake in a 350F oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese has melted (I realize that vegan cheese struggles with this sometimes). Garnish with a little fresh basil and cracked pepper to serve.
Buon appetito my friends!