Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe: Gluten-free, Vegetarian
I'm going to classify my Eggplant Parmesan (Eggplant Parmigiano) Recipe as kind of traditional and sort of easy. Here are the ways that I make this fairly labor-intensive dish easier:
1) I don't salt or otherwise prep the eggplant in any way. I just buy a fresh, firm-fleshed one and slice it just before battering.
2) I don't use bread crumbs; I just use flour. I was surprised to learn that this is how Italians do it.
3) I use jarred tomato sauce. Classico is my favorite. If I have frozen leftovers, I use some of my own marinara sauce.
4) I don't mix anything for the cheese filling. I just use mozzerella, usually fresh.
My former roommate who is from Naples made this for me once, and her boyfriend at the time (now her husband) also made me a gluten-free version. Both came out rather well. Paolo made his with rice flour, which was very crispy and light. For some reason I've found that gluten-free flour mixes don't work very well for deep-frying. A combination of glutinous rice flour and white rice flour gives a crispy outside and a soft, tender interior to the breading. If you don't have any glutinous rice flour, simply using white rice flour for both layers of breading works too. Chick pea (garbanzo bean) flour is the second-best thing I've tried. It has a much stronger flavor and browns nicely. I used two coats of chick pea flour for the eggplant parmesan in the photos, but here I'll give the rice option for the flour breading, which I think works best for my taste.
This is a naturally vegetarian dish. The only thing I'm changing to make it gluten-free is the type of flour I'm using to bread the eggplant. If you eat wheat, you can do two coats of all-purpose flour. For a vegan/dairy-free version, you can simply serve the fried eggplant on its own with sauce, or you can bake the casserole without cheese. It's still great!
Recipe for Eggplant Parmigiano
First prep the breading. Put in a bowl big enough to accommodate the eggplant slices one at a time:
3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
Mix together in another bowl the same size:
3/4 cup white rice flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp basil (optional)
Whisk in a third bowl the same size:
a dash of salt
Set the oven to 375 degrees F. Heat in your deep fryer or in a cast-iron skillet:
Olive oil (at least enough for the eggplant to float in, about an inch)
Cut into rounds about 1/2 inch thick:
1 large eggplant
Dip the eggplant slices, one at a time, into the egg and flour mixes in this order:
glutinous rice flour,
white rice flour.
Set them aside on a tray as you go, or fry as you go if the oil is hot enough. Fry the battered slices until golden brown, about 45-60 seconds per side. Set them aside on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain as you go. Slice into 1/4 inch rounds:
8-10 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
In a large casserole pan like this one, pour out enough of your tomato sauce to just cover the bottom of the pan, about:
3/4 cup tomato sauce
Place half of the fried eggplant slices in the bottom of the casserole dish in a single layer. Put most (or all) of the mozzarella slices on the eggplant slices. Put the rest of the eggplant slices on top of the mozzarella, and top everything with the rest of the tomato sauce. If you still have mozzarella slices, you may top the dish with those. Bake it in the oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle on the top:
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese.
Cook the dish for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the parmesan cheese is melted and browning on top. Serve hot on top of (or next to) pasta. Bon apetito!
If you're interested in seeing another traditional Italian pasta recipe, see my Pasta Carbonara recipe. It's easy and delicious!
Need a casserole pan? Search online at Sur La Table (affiliate).