This mini eggplant Parmesan from Alison Roman (it serves two as a main dish or four as a side dish) delivers delicious results without any frying. Roast the eggplant until it is deep brown and tender. Make a tomato sauce, toast the breadcrumbs and then layer the eggplant and sauce with the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, capers, oregano and parsley. Top with fresh mozzarella and bake for about 20 minutes. This is a perfect vegetarian main dish, served with a green salad.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

Unico anchovies, capers and canned tomatoes are additive-free. Genuine Parmesan cheese contains no colour, additives or preservatives; look for the name on the rind. I used PC panko, which is additive-free. Make sure the hot pepper flakes and dried oregano (if using) are free of additives. Good-quality fresh mozzarella contains no additives or preservatives. For more recipes using all-natural ingredients, visit Eye For a Recipe.

Serves 2 as a main dish and 4 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 large globe eggplant (about 2 pounds/900 g total), sliced about ½-¾-inch (1.25-1.9-cm) thick,
  • ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion (yellow, white, or red), thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional), plus more if you want
  • 1 28 oz. (793 g) can whole San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • 3/4 cup (187.5 ml) panko bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup (85 ml) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2–3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) chopped fresh oregano or marjoram (you can skip, or use half the amount of dried)
  • ⅓ cup (85 ml) coarsely chopped parsley, divided
  • 8 oz. (226 g) fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced or torn

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F (232° C). Drizzle eggplant with about half the olive oil and season with salt and pepper and roast, turning eggplant halfway through, until it’s as tender as custard and both sides are as brown as if they were fried, 25–30 minutes.
  2. While the eggplant roasts, make the sauce. Heat two tablespoons (30 ml) of olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then until the onions and garlic are tender and starting to brown around the edges, 8–10 minutes. Add crushed red pepper flakes and anchovies, if using, and stir, letting both things melt into the onions. Pour the juices from the tomatoes into the pot and one by one, crush the tomatoes with your hands into the pot. Season again with salt and pepper and let it simmer gently for 15–30 minutes (you want to evaporate some but not all of the liquid).
  3. Remove from heat. Set half aside and freeze or refrigerate the rest.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil in a small to medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Stir them to coat evenly in the oil and toast, tossing frequently, until all the bread crumbs are the color of toast, 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Spoon about half of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a 1 qt. (1 L) baking dish or 6-inch (15-cm) skillet (both hold about 4 cups/1 L volume, that’s the size you want. Doesn’t matter the shape, as long as its heatproof).
  6. Top with half the eggplant. Top with half the parmesan, parsley, capers, and oregano. Scatter half the bread crumbs in an even layer on top of all that, followed by half the mozzarella. Repeat this, ending with the mozzarella. Add a little more parmesan if you feel like it, maybe some black pepper.
  7. Bake until the cheese is browned and everything is bubbling around the edges, 15–20 minutes. Remove from the oven, maybe finish with some more parsley and let it cool ever so slightly before eating.

From Alison Roman