Today I bring you a guest post from my beautiful best friend Carolyn! She is my first true disciple/star student/victim of nutrition and fitness advice… meaning you’ll be getting some progress updates and before and after pictures! For years, Carolyn has come to me for advice on what to eat, what not to eat, and which exercises to do, and now she has made a commitment to living a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle! I am so proud of her determination and drive, and I love hearing about her progress and all the new GF vegan products that she enjoys. After we strategized a Whole Foods shopping trip together, Carolyn has been kicking ass, taking names (of new foods to try!), and trying new recipes. Today I wanted to share her first gluten-free, dairy-free creation: Eggplant Parmesan!
How I Turned My Man On….To Eating a Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meal!
Recently, thanks to the guidance, love, and support of my best friend Nika, I have made a move into the Gluten and Dairy Free world. Has it been challenging? Of course! But, I have learned above all it is all about the portions and the substitutions. This recipe is something I tried on a whim because I saw potential in the ingredients I had in the house (lucky, I know.) This recipe was also inspired by my urge to make a meal that was delicious and nutritious for myself as well as someone without dietary restrictions.
I have found that my boyfriend and I enjoy the same types of foods, and my twist on Eggplant Parmesan seemed to be something we could both love if it was done right. Scary fact: I literally have never even made regular eggplant parmesan, much less one that was gluten-free and dairy-free. But, like I said it is all about the substitutions (which you will see.)
I remember placing the plate down on the table and thinking “oh God, he is probably going to gag.” But, I was in for quite a surprise! He literally took one bite, made the globally accepted “this is amazing” groan, looked at me and said “Babe this is incredible.” INCREDIBLE! My smile could not have been wider.
So, if anyone is up for trying something that may seem a little out of the box, here is my Eggplant Parmesan!
Carolyn’s Eggplant Parmesean- A Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Delicious Meal
1 medium eggplant (this size was great for 2-3 people but if you have more consider getting a larger eggplant or more than one.)
2 cups Unsweetened Soy Milk (to soak eggplant in overnight). You can use regular milk if there are no dietary restrictions.
2 cups Vegetable Oil (for frying)
Fresh ground salt & pepper
1 Large Tomato
Pesto (to taste)
Panko breadcrumbs (I used the Gluten-Free variety)
¼ cup tomato sauce
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)
1. Remove skin from the eggplant
2. Cut eggplant into 1/8” pieces
3. The first, and most important, step in preparing eggplant is to soak it in milk overnight. Eggplant can be very bitter and giving it a nice milk coating can really help ease out that bitterness. I like to place all my sliced eggplant into a sealable, airtight container. Then I sprinkle the eggplant with some fresh ground salt and pepper. For my dietary restrictions I used regular soy milk unsweetened; however if you would like to use regular milk that is perfectly fine.
4. After soaking your eggplant, it is time to get battering.
5. Place gluten-free panko flakes in large dish with some salt and pepper.
6. Take eggplant and cover both sides in the panko mixture. When I did this I had no problem with the mixture sticking to the eggplant. If you find you run into this problem you can always combine eggs and milk mixture to help it stick better.
7. After both sides of the eggplant are covered, you are ready to drop it in HOT vegetable oil. Make sure your oil is very hot or the eggplant will not cook correctly and your eggplant will taste quite oily.
8. In the picture above I have dropped the eggplant in the oil for about two minutes, once the eggplant resembles the picture above, you are ready to flip the eggplant.
9. See the nice golden brown covering is forming, this is what you want! Flip one more time to give it even coverage.
10. I like removing the oil by placing a brown paper bag down and covering it with a paper towel. For this recipe I like the eggplant to be a little more crispy, it works great with the toppings when it has that extra crisp to it!
11. Once all the oil is removed and the eggplant is still warm, add some pieces of avocado. The heat from the avocado will allow you to spread it on the eggplant. This gives it a nice creamy note that I love.
12. This is “the sauce” my boyfriend said really made the dish “pop”. All I did was cut up a tomato and add my homemade pesto. All I did to make the pesto was pick a few leaves from my garden, add olive oil and salt and pepper. I skip the nuts and cheese because I like the basics, but feel free to add those in the food processor if you desire.
13. Combine tomatoes and “the sauce”. You can place in the food processor but do so gently. I just took a spoon and crushed/mixed by hand.
14. Place mixture on top of eggplant and avocado. Add cheese. I LOVE the Daiya cheese Nika turned me on to for dietary restrictions.
15. Warm until cheese is slightly melted
16. Warm ½ cup of tomato sauce ( I chose this organic option I love.) Place tomato sauce on top of eggplant.
17. This is what my finished product looked like. I am no culinary stylist so yes it does look pretty messy but I promise you the taste is AMAZING!
18. For salad, there are two options. I labeled them “his” and “hers” here. The boyfriend was a bit hesitant about going “full veggie” for a meal so I added some Whole Foods bacon ( one of his favorite things.) He also used the dressing of his choosing and I was able to use a new found dressing that is actually scrumptious!
( I have to say I really like this dressing. It is Whole Foods Vegan Caesar and let me tell you it’s great for helping with restrictions. It has the taste of Caesar but is like a vinaigrette on the tongue.)
19. Dessert: Nothing is better than some yummy peaches