Before you get started, I want to warn you that this is not a traditional recipe, this one is quick and simple enough for a week-night. Click this link if you were looking for a traditional recipe and want to bail out now.
Mine is low-fat, gluten free, and either vegan or vegetarian depending on whether you use mozzarella cheese or a vegan substitute. In case you worry that this is sacrilegious, don’t. First of all, the traditional dish it isn’t from Parma at all, despite the name it is from Southern Italy. Second, there are many regional variations on eggplant Parmigiana, also called eggplant parmesan in the USA, and third, there are two completely different traditions that claim the name, one is the baked casserole type and the other is the stacked slices type. I like the casserole type best but each slice of eggplant is generally salted, pressed, dipped in egg, breaded, then fried, and finally baked with sauce and cheese. That is just too many calories and way too many steps for me.
This recipe can’t duplicate the texture that frying and then baking creates, but the taste is exactly what you expect. Just saying that reminds me of a dish my mother made out of Diet For A Small Planet. She asked my dad how he liked it and he replied, “I guess anything can work with enough red-sauce.” 🙂
- 2 medium eggplants
- your favorite marinara, 32 oz
- basil and oregano, 1 tbsp dried or 2 tbsp fresh of each
- garlic powder, 1 tsp or more to taste
- black pepper, 1tsp
- cheese or vegan substitute, a handful or more
- Preheat oven to 375F
- oil pan, or not
- Slice one eggplant right into 13 x 9″ pan using the mandolin, I don’t peel mine but you can if you want to
- Spread half your marinara over the paper -thin slices of eggplant.
- Sprinkle the herbs and spices over all.
- Slice the next eggplant on top
- Cover with the rest of the marinara
- Sprinkle cheese on top as desired
- Bake at 375F for 45 minutes and then let sit for a 10 minutes before cutting
- cut into squares with a knife
- Use a blend of good quality mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses
- Drizzle olive oil between layers
- Add a 12 oz box of mushroom slices between layers
- Switch the herbs up, try rosemary, fresh garlic, crushed red peppers, etc
A couple of notes:
The one thing that I think is critical to the recipe is a mandolin. I use this one. Getting those slices paper-thin is what allows them to absorb all the sauce and what keeps the casserole from tasting starchy. Also, I have gotten emails from people thinking I skipped a step and left out “oil the pan” … I don’t oil my pans and as you can see from the pix there is no sticking problem. Feel free to use a layer of oil on the bottom and sides of your pan if you want it crusty and/or want to add some fats to your diet, or if you know your pans are hard to clean.