Hearty Main-Dish Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan
OK folks! Our Hearty Main-Dish Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan is the real deal: tender seasoned eggplant floured, egged and breaded, fried in olive oil, layered with low FODMAP tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese baked until golden.
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This Takes Time!
WARNING: This recipe takes time. And lots of pots and pans. And oil. And paper towels and patience. This recipe for our Hearty Main-Dish Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan is a commitment. I am warning you here about what you are getting into, so I don’t want to hear any complaints!
Turn on the music. Listen to a podcast. Have a glass of wine, if you are so inclined. Just get into it. I actually really enjoyed the process and think you will too.
When I pulled this out of the oven it took effort. It is HEAVY! I wanted to weigh it but my digital scale only goes to 11-pounds and I know this was heavier!
After hours of working, you will be rewarded with a gigantic, oozy, melted cheese, fried eggplant extravaganza! Just add a salad and you will be showered with oohs, aahs, praise and requests for the recipe.
Don’t Make This Dish If…
DON’T make this Hearty Main-Dish Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan if:
- You are a calorie counter
- Are not an experienced cook
- Are afraid of frying food
- Don’t like eggplant, cheese or breaded things
- Need a quick fix
DO Make This Dish If:
- You want one of the all-time greatest vegetable-focused main dishes ever created
- Love anything with oozy melted cheese
- Love lasagna, but looking for something a little bit different
- You love project cooking: i.e.: dishes that take hours of care and focus
- Want to feed a crowd and have leftovers for the freezer
To Salt or Not To Salt?
This is the question. Do we salt the eggplant slices and allow them to sit, to exude excess moisture and improve flavor, or not? It depends.
If your eggplant is fresh and firm, with no wrinkled skin and heavy for its size and the stem end is still somewhat vibrant looking and not brown and shriveled, you could simply slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch (6 mm) slices and flour and bread these raw slices, hoping for the best.
For our Lighter Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmigiana I do not salt the eggplant, as I want a streamlined dish. For this version I always salt and suggest that you do, too.
Use The Right Pan
Sometimes curious things happen in the kitchen and they are the kinds of things that will lead inexperienced cooks astray.
I knew that this recipe was going to produce a lot of food, volume-wise and I wanted to use a 3-quart casserole dish. I pulled two of them off my shelves and that’s when things went awry.
BOTH pans were imprinted within the ovenproof glass as 3-quart, but the similarity ended there.
- The one below right, which is from the Pioneer Woman collection from Wal-Mart, was additionally labeled as 9-inch by 12.75-inches (detailed on the glass as 22.86 cm by 32.40 cm) and 3 quart (2.8 L). You can see that it is shallower than the other casserole and the bottom corners being very sloped cheat you out of space.
- The one I ended up using is from Anchor Hocking, shown on the left below, and is also labeled as 9-inch by 13-inches (33 cm by 23 cm) and 3-quart.
I poured water into the shallow dish to the very top, then poured that amount of water into the larger one and it came to only about three-quarters full. These two “3-quart” dishes are NOT the same size in terms of volume. If you use a smaller one, the ingredients will NOT fit.
Look here below to see how different these two dishes are!
Let’s Talk Sauce
You need 5 ½-cups (1.3 L) of sauce for this eggplant Parmesan. You can make the sauce below, or you can use our Low FODMAP Quick Tomato Sauce, Chunky Tomato Sauce or your favorite low FODMAP marinara.
The sauce presented here below was inspired by one from Bon Appetit magazine, where I used to work.
You might have noticed that I have called this dish “plant-focused” but I have not called it vegetarian. That is because the sauce described below contains anchovies. Anchovies add umami and combined with the slow cooking and reduction of the ingredients yields an incredibly rich-flavored sauce that I love. They are optional, if you want to create a vegetarian dish.
Making this sauce also adds a lot of time and effort to the dish and you can certainly use one of the other options mentioned above for a more streamlined process.
Let’s Talk Olive Oil
I always have extra-virgin olive oil in the Test Kitchen and it is the olive oil that I reach for most often. If you have one olive oil in the kitchen, extra-virgin olive oil is the way to go.
Usually when I deep-fry or shallow-fry foods I reach for some sort of vegetable oil, often rice bran oil, for its light taste. This recipe is one of the very few times that I recommend shallow frying in olive oil because it adds to the Italian flavor-profile that permeates this dish.
If all you have in the kitchen is extra-virgin olive oil, then by all means use it. Contrary to what you may have heard, while olive oil does have a lower smoke point than the aforementioned rice brand oil or sunflower oil, its smoke point of 350°F to 410°F (180°C to 210°C) is within the range you need for our frying purposes.
(BTW all oils are low FODMAP, as they do not contain carbohydrates).
But since you need a fair amount of oil to fry with, you might very well need to shop for some olive oil and in that case I suggest that you buy “virgin olive oil” or “refined olive oil”. That’s what the labels will say. These are not as expensive as extra-virgin (a plus) and will work very well for your frying in that their smoke points are even higher than extra-virgin.
Hearty Main-Dish Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan
THIS is the Eggplant Parm recipe that you want, when you want a hearty main dish! Warning: it does take time, patience and lots of pots and pans!
- ¼ cup (60 ml) Low-FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil, made with olive oil, or purchased equivalent
- ½ cup (36 g) finely chopped leeks, green parts only
- ½ cup (32 g) finely chopped scallions, green parts only
- 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets; optional
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup (60 ml) dry white wine
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2, 28- ounce (794 g) cans crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups (360 ml) water
- ¼ cup (3 g) torn basil leaves
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
Eggplant & Assembly:
- 3 ½- pounds (1.6 kg) globe or Italian eggplants, (about 4 medium, sliced crosswise into ½ inch/12 mm thick discs
- Kosher salt
- 3 cups (369 g) low FODMAP panko breadcrumbs, such as Ian’s
- 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1½ cups (150 g) finely grated Parmesan, divided
- 1 cup (145 g) low FODMAP gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 6 large eggs, beaten to blend
- 1 ¼ cups (300 ml) olive oil
- 10- ounces (280 g) low-moisture mozzarella shredded
- ¼ cup (6 g) finely chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup (8 g) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 8- ounces (225 g) fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Make the Marinara: Heat Low-FODMAP Garlic-Infused Oil in a non-reactive Dutch oven over low-medium heat. Add the leek and scallion greens and sauté for a few minutes until softened, but not browned. Stir in the anchovies, if using, and the oregano and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 30 seconds. Whisk in the white wine, allow it to boil and cook for about 1 minute or until mostly evaporated. Whisk in tomato paste, then add canned tomatoes, water and fresh basil and stir everything together. Season with some salt and pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Adjust heat to a low simmer and cook for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally, taking care not to scorch. You want the sauce to thicken and condense but make sure you have at least 5 ½-cups (1.3 L) of sauce for your assembly. Taste and season with salt. You may make this sauce up to 2 days ahead. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Bring back to room temperature before proceeding.
Salting the Eggplant: Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with a triple layer of paper towels. Lightly salt the eggplant on both sides and place in a single layer on prepared pan. Top with a single layer of paper towels. Repeat with salted eggplant, arranging in a single layer, top with paper towels and keep going until you have salted and arranged all of your eggplant in single layers on your pan. Top with a final triple layer of paper towels, place another rimmed baking sheet pan on top and weigh your big pile down with heavy pots and pans. Let eggplant sit for 1 hour, at which point you will simply remove all the paper towels and discard and you will be left with tenderized eggplant, ready to use.
Fry Your Eggplant: Meanwhile, pulse the panko, oregano, black pepper, and ¾ cup (75 g) of Parmesan in a food processor fitted with a metal blade until very finely ground. Transfer to a shallow bowl; I like to use a pie plate.
Place flour in another shallow bowl and eggs in an additional shallow bowl, whisking them vigorously. Place a rack on a rimmed sheet pan and have right next to your breading ingredients.
Position rack in middle of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Working one at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flour, then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off. Coat thoroughly in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess, and place on wire rack; multiple layers are fine. This step will take a while.
Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with a triple-layer of paper towels and have near stovetop.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet generously with oil to a depth of about 1/8-inch (3 mm) and heat over medium-high until very hot. Add eggplant slices - the oil should sizzle immediately. Cook as many eggplant rounds at a time as you can without crowding until a deep golden brown. Flip over and cook second side until browned as well. Remove as they are done to prepared pan in a single layer. Use another piece of paper towel to blot the tops of excess oil. Leave that paper in place to receive subsequent pieces of eggplant. Keep cooking and blotting, creating additional layers of eggplant, until all eggplant are cooked. Two or three times during frying, pause, wipe out the pan (crumbs will have collecteand add additional oil.
Assembly: Toss the mozzarella, chopped basil and chopped parsley together in a small bowl with the remaining ¾ cup (75 g) Parmesan cheese.
Spread 1-cup (240 ml) sauce over the bottom of your 13-inch by 9-inch (33 cm by 23 cm) casserole. Top with a layer of eggplant slices (trim to fit as needed). Spread 1 ½ cups (360 ml) sauce over the eggplant, then cover with one-third of cheese mixture. Add another layer of eggplant, followed by 1-cup (240 ml) sauce and half of remaining cheese mixture. Finish layers with remaining eggplant slices, 2 cups (480 ml) sauce, and the last of the cheese mixture. Cover tightly with foil, place on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips, and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes or until the eggplant feels soft and tender when pierced with a knife.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Remove casserole from oven and arrange thinly sliced fresh mozzarella evenly over the top. Bake uncovered until cheese is bubbling and browned in spots, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Let rest for about 15 minutes before serving.
- Do Ahead: Alternatively our low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan can be made up to 2 days ahead. Let cool; cover with foil and refrigerate. Bring back to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350° (180°C), uncovering halfway through, until bubbling at edges and hot all the way through. You can even reheat covered with microwave-safe plastic wrap in the microwave.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.
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