Layered Eggplant Parmesan

I struggled with recipes that called for cheese after I cut dairy from my diet. I am lactose intolerant (or something like that). I had horrible GERD for years that the doctors prescribed different drugs for but none of them worked for very long. It wasn’t until I removed dairy from my diet that I found relief. And that was hard because I LOOOVE cheese and coffee creamer. I survived, but still craved dairy.

About one year after no dairy, I decided to try raw milk dairy products. I started with cheese (theoretically it should be easier on the stomach than milk) and to my surprise I was fine. No indigestion, no bloating, etc. So, I do consume dairy again – but always raw. In this recipe I use raw milk parmesan. If you have issues with dairy, feel free to try the recipe without it – eggplant parmesan is still yummy sans cheese 🙂

I’ve tried a few different versions of eggplant parmesan but this one is by far my favorite. It’s not greasy or soggy.

Ingredients - Eggplant Parmesan

For this recipe, you’ll need:

1 lb. grass-fed ground beef
2 – 14.5 oz. cans of diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 large onion, diced
1 egg, beaten with 2T. water
3 small italian eggplants
2 oz. raw milk parmesan, grated
2 T. oregano
1 1/2 T. basil
1 t. fennel seeds
salt (3 grinds from a grinder)
pepper (5 grinds from a grinder)

For breading:
3T. coconut flour
2T. tapioca flour
3T. almond flour
salt and pepper to taste

First, you need to “sweat” the eggplant. Cover a baking sheet in foil and then paper towels. Slice the eggplant into 1/4″ thick discs.

eggplant discs

You’ll place these discs onto the baking sheet and lightly salt. Set them aside for about 20-30 minutes. During this this you can preheat your oven to 350F. The eggplant will release beads of water, i.e. sweating. This reduces the moisture in the eggplant and bitterness.

Grab a deep saucepan and coat lightly with coconut oil (spray or otherwise); set to medium heat. Put the onion and garlic in the saucepan and cook until slightly browned and the onions are becoming transparent.

onion and garlic

Add the beef (break into small pieces) and cook until the meat is browned – note, not cooked through, just browned.

Add the diced tomatoes and spices to the meat, onion and garlic in the saucepan; cover and set to medium-low heat. This will be your sauce. It’s chunky, so if you prefer a less chunky sauce, replace one can of diced tomatoes with tomato sauce.

sauce

Now it’s time to prepare the eggplant. First, prep your breading. I use a plastic gallon bag to shake the eggplant in (think shake and bake) – it coats easily and my hands don’t get completely gooped. In the gallon bag, combine : coconut flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, and salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t have plastic bags, just mix the flours and seasoning on a plate.

Next, make your eggwash. What is egg wash? It’s eggs and water or milk. It helps bind the breading to the eggplant. Take two eggs and beat them slightly. Add 2 T. of water and stir – it’s that easy.

Warning: This can get messy – but it is so worth it!

Pat the eggplant discs with the paper towels to remove the “sweat”. Coat the eggplant discs in the egg wash and toss in the breading to lightly coat.

egg wash

Coat the baking sheets lightly with coconut oil spray. Place the discs onto the baking sheets.

Once all the discs are placed on the baking sheets, spray lightly with coconut oil. (This helps to crisp the discs while baking. Traditional eggplant parmesan recipes do this by frying the eggplant – it is messy and makes the dish super heavy.)

Bake the eggplant for 15 minutes. It should be tender in the middle but not super soft. Then broil each sheet on High heat for 5 minutes to brown the discs.

baked eggplant

Now comes the assembly – get creative and have fun with this part. You could make a leaning Tower of Pisa if you wanted.

On a plate, set down a layer of eggplant (I used four discs – 2 x 2). Then add some sauce to coat. Then sprinkle on the cheese. Repeat.

Eggplant Parmesan - plated

I made plates with two layers (3-4 servings). You can garnish with roasted garlic, fresh basil or a small spinach salad.

Buon appetito!

– Nicole

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