No, this is not Eggplant Parmigiana. There’s no flour, eggs, breadcrumbs or mozzarella here. Just eggplants, fried in oil (or roasted for a healthier option), then layered with Parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, and basil. My family refers to this dish as…wait for it…”eggplants in a dish.” But I think “Parmesan Eggplants with Tomato Sauce” is a bit more specific.
These gluten-free eggplants are served at room temperature, but are not bad cold out of the fridge. If you can tolerate gluten, a loaf of crusty Italian bread is mandatory, because you will want to cut yourself a nice slab, slice it open, and stuff it with these savory eggplants for the most glorious lunch or vegetarian dinner.
Now, let’s talk about roasting or frying. Since I started this blog and began documenting previously unwritten family recipes, I’ve come to realize that my cooking heritage includes lots of frying and lots of oil. (No wonder Dad used to drive to Gallucci’s to buy olive oil by the box — a box full of gallon-sized cans of olive oil.)
I’m constantly trying to balance staying true to tradition and cooking healthier. Plus, I always consider the time and hassle involved in making food the old-school way and use shortcuts wherever they make sense. That’s a long-winded way of saying I prefer to roast my eggplants for this dish instead of frying them. Do they taste the same? Not quite, but they’re still good. (My husband couldn’t even tell the difference.)
I just don’t have the patience to stand at the stove and fry all of these eggplants when I can throw them in the oven (using a nonstick baking sheet at 500 degrees) and use a fraction of the oil (I let the eggplants brown first, then spray on some oil to finish roasting, so they won’t be soggy.) And while the eggplants are roasting, I can use the time to prep the rest of the meal or make the quick sauce, which includes onion but no garlic, for a sweeter flavor.
But, no worries if you want to make these Parmesan eggplants with tomato sauce the traditional way. I’ve included directions for frying, as well as roasting. However you cook them, I hope you enjoy these!
(Recipe Source: Adapted from my Mom’s version of a family recipe)