Gluten-Free, Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

My love affair with eggplant Parmesan began years ago, back when I was a precociously adventurous eater. Not that eggplant Parmesan is necessarily adventurous. But when you’re a kid and claim eggplant to be one of your favorite foods while others your age cite hot dogs and pizza, you tend to earn the title over time.  Telling someone that your all-time favorite food is “squid with black bean sauce” when you’re in kindergarten doesn’t hurt, either.

I still find this dish at the top of my list of comfort foods. It’s creamy and gooey and rich and cheesy — all recognizable comfort food attributes. It took some time to figure out a way to make this dish gluten-free and vegan, however. So when I came up with this recipe a few weeks back, I was so excited that I made it several times, even though it turned out just fine after the first attempt.

This is a relatively easy dish to pull-off, as it lends itself nicely to liberties and variations. I could imagine some shaved zucchini or roasted red pepper making an appearance in here. There’s also the possibility of using various types of pasta sauces. I would recommend, however, a relatively light pasta sauce here, as the almonds tend to let out some oil as this dish bakes. An oily pasta sauce would make this dish a bit on the heavy side. And while this recipe could comfortably feed four people, don’t hesitate to make this if you’re only feeding one or two — you’ll find the flavors even more developed the next day.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Eggplant Parmesan:

I would recommend a chunkier pasta sauce here. If you use a thinner sauce, try adjusting the amount used so the end product is not too runny. Most importantly, use a sauce you would eat alone on pasta, as the sauce really makes a difference in the dish.

15 eggplant slices, between 1/4″  and 1/3″ thick (from 1 medium eggplant)

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

3-4 teaspoons soy-free Earth Balance buttery spread, divided

1 cup jarred pasta sauce, divided

3/4 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella, divided

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a blender or immersion blender, add flax seed meal and water and blend until frothy. Pour mixture into a shallow dish.

3. In a separate shallow dish, mix together almond flour, nutritional yeast and salt. Individually dip eggplant slices into the flax-water mixture, turning to cover both sides. Transfer slices to the almond flour-nutritional yeast dish and press into the mixture, turning to coat both sides. Shake off any excess coating.

4. Heat 1 teaspoon buttery spread (or more as needed) over a non-stick skillet on medium-high until melted. Add eggplant slices — about 4 at a time — to the pan and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes, or until outsides are golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Repeat as necessary with remaining slices.

5. Layer a 1-qt. baking dish or 9″ cast iron skillet with 5 eggplant slices. Top slices with 1/3 cup sauce, then 1/4 cup cheese. Repeat 2x. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until pasta sauce is bubbly and eggplant is soft.

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Comments

  1. says

    I just “re-discoverd” Eggplant Parmesan” too except it doesn’t have to be gluten-free vegan. But this rendition sounds very interesting.

    I have a couple of questions.

    Why can’t you skip the flax meals and flour all together and just brown both sides and bake? And why can’t you use EVOO?

    Just curious if you are using these ingredients for flavor or for some specific purpose.

    Thanks for the great recipe.

  2. Beth says

    Hi Karen — Thanks for stopping by! Your website is lovely.

    The breading portion really just adds more flavor and makes this more reminiscent of a “real” eggplant parmesan. I’m sure you could just brown it, though, and it would be fine.

    As for the Earth Balance, I found that the eggplant breading browned better in the butter than in the oil, and that the oil made it a little too greasy. It wasn’t a huge difference, just a little thing I noticed. But if you’re skipping the breading all together, I’m sure you could brown it in the oil and it would be fine.

    take care,

    Beth

  3. says

    Thank you for checking out my website. :)

    Thanks for clarifying that. I thought there was some sort of “secret” for breading it and using the spread…lol

    I once saw an Italian chef making her Eggplant Parmesan who didn’t use bread crumbs and just browned the slices just in plain EVOO and then, layered to bake. I never tried it that way but wondered if that was the ‘real’ authentic method of making Eggplant Parmesan and if breading was an American thing. I also want to try making it with grilled eggplants. That sounds like it’d be healthy too.

    :)

  4. valerie says

    I was wondering how about spraying with non stick spray the baking sheet and spraying the breaded eggplant and bake instead of frying. What do you think?

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