Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

I firmly believe my love of food stems from my Italian background. The smell of Pecorino-Romano Cheese instantly zooms me back to my Great-Grandmother’s tiny kitchen in New York where “dinner” was a six-hour long family gathering. Growing up, Sundays and major holidays were not complete without a large pot of homemade sauce and meatballs, bowls of penne and sweet Italian sausage, Pastina (for the kids), Eggplant Parmesan, Frutti di Mare, lasagna, and an assortment of colorful Bella Napoli Italian cookies. I learned from a young age that food brings people together, and the kitchen is not just a place where food is prepared, but a gathering place where stories are shared. Food blogs have extended this gathering place from the kitchen to the world-wide web, and oh, how I love it.
Roasted Eggplant and Grape Tomatoes

Some think leading a Gluten-Free lifestyle means giving up the foods you love. I take the glass-half-full view. Leading a Gluten-Free lifestyle is merely eating the foods you love differently. And, well, getting creative in kitchen, too. I decided to do just that with this quick, light (and unconventional) Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan.

The approach I took is more Eggplant Parmesan deconstructed than modified. (I think I’ve been watching too much Top Chef). Instead of frying the eggplant in an egg wash, I roasted it in the oven along with grape tomatoes and garlic cloves. To give the eggplant added texture reminiscent of traditional Eggplant Parm, I added Gluten-Free bread crumbs before placing the vegetables in the oven. The final touch? Adding crushed tomatoes simmered with oregano, parsley, and minced onion to the roasted vegetables. I love this dish for its simplicity, and it won’t sit in your gut afterwards like a leaden weight. While it makes a great side dish, it also serves nicely as a main course over a bed of pasta.

I chose a dairy-free route for this version of Eggplant Parmesan, but for you cheese lovers out there, I recommend tossing the sauce and vegetables with one cup of mozzarella before baking in the oven for an additional ten minutes. Ah, ooey-gooey goodness.

Quick and Easy Eggplant Parmesean

Quick and Easy Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium eggplant
1 pint grape tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
15oz can unseasoned crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
Extra virgin olive oil (enough to lightly drizzle eggplant)
Oregano, parsley, and minced onion to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.
2. Wash eggplant and slice into 1″ pieces. Place in large bowl.
3. Wash grape tomatoes and add to the bowl.
4. Toss eggplant, grape tomatoes, and peeled garlic cloves in a drizzle of olive oil until lightly coated. Place on baking sheet and season with coarse salt and pepper.
5. Sprinkle bread crumbs evenly across the vegetables.
6. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes or until eggplant is golden brown and tomatoes shrivel.
7. While vegetables are roasting, simmer crushed tomatoes on the stove. Season to taste with coarse salt, pepper, dried oregano, parsley, and minced onion. Stir occasionally.
9. Transfer roasted vegetables to a large lipped plate or pie plate (I used a 8″ glass dish). Gradually pour tomato sauce over the vegetables.
10. Serve either as a side dish or over pasta.

Dairy Option
1. After pouring tomato sauce over the vegetables, toss the vegetables with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.
2. Top with additional mozzarella, if desired, and bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes until cheese melts and sauce bubbles.
3. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve.

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