Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

Eggplant parmesan gets a makeover.  Baked eggplant rounds are layered with tomato sauce and mozzarella and stacked together for a modern and delicious dish.  Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks for the win!

Food and Tradition

My maternal grandparents were born and raised in Italy. Both immigrated to the United States and became citizens. They both brought their love for authentic Italian food to The States. My grandfather was a cook in the army and eventually opened up a small Italian restaurant in the Bronx. He served up the finest Italian food. Eventually my grandparents and parents moved to the suburbs of New Jersey. There they continued sharing their love of Italian food.  My mother and grandmother simply loved to make eggplant parmesan. Some kids grew up eating chicken nuggets and fries; I grew up eating a LOT of homemade eggplant parm. Both women knew how to make amazing dishes. Fried eggplant rounds were coated in a thick layer of egg and perfectly seasoned breadcrumbs. They were then layered with homemade marinara sauce and copious amounts of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. It was divine.

Remaking the Classic Eggplant Parmesan

As a child,  words like cholesterol, saturated fat, and calorie count were of no concern to me. Now as an adult, I’ve realized that this vintage dish, steeped in family tradition, needed a bit of a makeover.  I knew that there were some modifications that could be done to remake this classic eggplant parmesan dish into a somewhat healthier, more elevated and modern dish while still maintaining the flavor that everyone loves.
I recently entered my revamped recipe into a recipe contest sponsored by Hellmann’s.  The challenge was to take a vintage recipe and give it a modern makeover.   I am a member of a really fun Facebook group called Hellmann’s Deli Club.  There, members have the opportunity to enter some fun contests, sample some new products, and exchange cooking and recipe tips.  Sounds fun?  You can join too.  Here’s the link.

How to Make Healthy Changes to Eggplant Parmesan

As an adult, I have developed many food allergies, the most severe being to eggs. The first item to go to the chopping block for my revamped eggplant parm was the thick egg coating. I don’t know exactly why, but thankfully, I am able to still have mayonnaise despite the fact that it contains egg. I decided to mix some Hellman’s Mayo with some prepared pesto. After slicing my eggplant into 1/4″ thick rounds, I brushed eat side liberally with the mayo blend. I coated each round in a mixture of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and grated parmesan cheese. I then placed the rounds onto a baking sheet and baked them at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.  Baking the eggplant rounds instead of frying them eliminates a tremendous amount of fat.  Eggplant are notorious for absorbing oil.  Their flesh is quite spongy and porous.  By brushing the eggplant rounds with a bit of the mayonnaise spread, moisture is sealed in which prevents the rounds from drying out in the oven.    No more egg coating. No more frying. No more oil-saturated eggplant rounds.  Yeah!
Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks - The Gluten Free Gathering
Instead of layering the rounds in a traditional rectangular pan, I created eggplant stacks using 3 rounds per stack. I then spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce onto each round and a layer of shredded low fat mozzarella cheese. I created the stacks, placed them back onto the baking sheet, and baked them at 350 degrees for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt. Lastly I garnished each stack with some fresh basil leaves.
Gluten Free Baked Eggplant Parmesan Stacks - The Gluten Free Gathering

What I Love About Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

  • I really like how easy portion control is now.   One stack per person, served with a garden salad makes for the perfect lunch or dinner.
  • I also love how pretty this normally humble-looking dish is now.   Normally cut into rectangular slabs, these stacks have a bit of an elegant flair to them.  Take ordinary food and elevate it.
  • I really like that I can control the amount of cheese that each stack receives.  Traditional pans of eggplant parmesan are loaded with a ton of cheese (which is delicious).  But it is nice to be able to cut back a bit.
  • And best of all, this dish which traditionally is very time consuming to make and bake, is ready in under 30 minutes total (prep and cook time).
  • With so many types of mayonnaise varieties available, you can opt to use traditional, vegan, or even spicy mayonnaise in this recipe.

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks - The Gluten Free Gathering

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks

A vintage recipe made over.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword eggplant, eggplant parmesan, Gluten Free, healthy, italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author The Gluten Free Gathering

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (I used Hellmann's)
  • 1 tablespoons prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup gluten free Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (I used Aleias)
  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup jarred tomato sauce
  • 1.5 cups shredded low fat mozzarella
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  • Trim the ends from one medium eggplant; discard. Slice the eggplant into 1/4" thick rounds.

  • In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise and pesto. Liberally brush each round (both sides) with the mixture.

  • Place the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese into a shallow bowl. Mix together.

  • Place each round in the breadcrumbs mixture, coating both sides well.

  • Place the coated eggplant rounds onto a nonstick baking sheet.

  • Bake for 7 minutes. Flip each round over. Bake for an additional 3-5
    minutes. The eggplant rounds should be fork tender, but not soft and
    mushy.

  • Starting with the largest 4 rounds, spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce
    over each. Sprinkle each with a bit of shredded mozzarella cheese.

  • Select 4 medium sized rounds. Place them on top of the large rounds.
    Spread 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce over each and top each with a bit of
    mozzarella.

  • Lastly place the smallest rounds on top of each stack. Spread each with a tablespoon of sauce and a bit of cheese.

  • Press a long toothpick into the center of each stack.

  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt.

  • Remove from the oven, place each stack on a plate, remove each toothpick, and garnish with fesh basil leaves.

Gluten Free Eggplant Parmesan Stacks - The Gluten Free Gathering

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