These Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Stacks are a lighter, healthier, easier, faster, and gluten-free version of traditional eggplant parmesan! They’re the perfect thing for a vegetarian dinner that feels fancy but is so easy to make.
Eggplant parmesan is the ultimate vegetarian comfort food. Traditionally, eggplant is breaded and fried, then layered in a baking dish with sauce and cheese. This stacked version of eggplant parmesan is SO much easier, not to mention lighter and healthier, too!
In this version, eggplant slices are roasted in the oven, then stacked with marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan, and fresh basil. It’s baked for a few minutes until the cheese is melted to perfection.
The result? Fewer dishes, way less hands-on prep, and since you aren’t frying the eggplant and coating it in breadcrumbs, it’s lighter and healthier, as well as gluten-free and low-carb, without sacrificing taste!
Not to mention these little stacks are so adorable, and the perfect individual portion- they’re elegant enough for a vegetarian dinner party entree but easy enough for a casual weeknight dinner.
In this post I’ll give some tips for how to roast the eggplant slices to perfection, explain how to assemble these eggplant parmesan stacks, and explain how to save time when you make this.
How to roast eggplant slices
Roasting eggplant is easy, and I personally think it’s the best way to cook it. Here are some tips to get it right every time!
- Cook it THOROUGHLY. You want the eggplant to be borderline mushy. Why? An undercooked eggplant can taste bitter and cause indigestion. This is not the time for crisp-tender vegetables, people.
- Use plenty of oil and salt. This recipe uses 4 tablespoons of oil to roast it. When you coat the eggplant in the oil, move quickly, as the sponge-like vegetable will absorb it fast. And use lots of kosher salt and black pepper to season it.
How to assemble Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
It’s so easy to layer up these delectable eggplant parmesan stacks once the eggplant is roasted! Here’s how.
- Add a spoonful of marinara sauce (just over a tablespoon) on top of four of the eggplant slices.
- Place a slice of fresh mozzarella on top of the sauce.
- Then, add about a tablespoon of parmesan cheese on top of that.
- Add a little bit of fresh basil on top of the parmesan, and…
- Repeat two more times, for a total of three stacks!
Don’t add basil on top of the final layer- you’ll put the last of the fresh basil on top after it bakes, in order to preserve that fresh basil flavor.
Once everything’s assembled, just bake for another 10 minutes or so until the cheese is melted, and add the rest of the fresh basil. That’s it! Done!
How to prep ahead and other time saving tricks
While this roasted eggplant parmesan recipe requires a lot less hands-on prep time than traditional eggplant parmesan, it does take a little while to make. Between roasting the slices, assembling, and baking the stacks, you’re looking at just under an hour total time.
But I’ve got some tricks to save you some time! Here they are.
- Roast the eggplant 1-2 days ahead of time. Just keep the roasted eggplant in an airtight container in the fridge, and when you’re ready to cook, just stack with sauce and cheese and bake!
- Buy pre-sliced fresh mozzarella. Ever tried to slice fresh mozzarella yourself? It’s kind of a pain. I recommend buying the pre-sliced kind. But if you DO need to slice it yourself, stick it in your freezer for 10 minutes or so before slicing- it’s easier when it’s hardened a bit.
Do you need to salt the eggplant and pat dry before roasting?
Some people like to salt eggplant, let it sit in a colander for about 30 minutes, then pat dry before cooking it. The thought is that this draws out the bitter liquid from the eggplant, improving the taste.
I personally do not think this step is necessary, as long as you cook it for long enough in the oven. You can do it if you like, but don’t feel like you have to!
Other easy classic Italian recipes
- Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)
- Panzanella (Tomato and Bread Salad)
- Italian Vegetarian Stuffed Mushrooms
- Five-Ingredient Pasta with Bolognese Sauce
- Chicken Parmesan Sliders
- Quick and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Cacio e Pepe (from Gimme some Oven)
One final thing- if you’re buying store-bought marinara sauce, I always recommend spending a bit of money and using Rao’s. But any will do, and here’s a great recipe for homemade marinara sauce if you want to save a bit of money! You can even use pizza sauce instead of marinara.
Have leftover marinara sauce? Use it to make stuffed portobello mushrooms!
Did you make these Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Stacks? Please comment below and Rate this Recipe
Roasted Eggplant Parmesan Stacks
- 12 slices of eggplant approximately 1/2 inch thick (about 1 large eggplant)
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 cup marinara sauce prepared or homemade
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cut into 12 slices (see notes)
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese grated (see notes)
- 1/4 cup fresh basil cut chiffonade
- more olive oil, parmesan cheese, fresh cracked pepper, and/or crushed red pepper for serving, optional
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
- Arrange the eggplant slices on a rimmed baking sheet and coat front and back with all 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Work quickly to coat them, as the eggplant will absorb the oil. Season generously with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides.
- Roast the eggplant slices at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until thoroughly cooked and browned.
- Remove all but four roasted eggplant slices to a plate. Arrange the four you've left on the baking sheet to be evenly spread out.
- Add a spoonful (a little more than a tablespoon) of marinara sauce on top of the four eggplant slices. Add a slice of fresh mozzarella, and about a tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese, followed by a few pieces of the fresh basil.
- Repeat the layers two more times, omitting the fresh basil on the last layer. You should now have four stacks with three eggplant slices in each.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- After removing from oven, add remaining basil on top of each stack (this is added after baking so it doesn't dry up or burn)
- Serve with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, more parmesan cheese, fresh cracked black pepper, and little bit of crushed red pepper if desired.
- Time saving tip: You can roast the eggplant slices up to 2 days in advance. Just roast them, refrigerate in an airtight container, and assemble the stacks when you're ready to cook.
- Money saving tips: If you don't have fresh basil readily available, buy a marinara sauce that has basil in it instead. You can also use shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese instead of fresh. It's also easy to make your own marinara sauce in bulk as a more budget-friendly option.
- Traditional parmesan cheese may not be suitable for a strict vegetarian diet because it contains animal rennet. Look for a suitable vegetarian substitute, such as a parmesan made with plant rennet.
- You can buy fresh mozzarella pre-sliced, which is much easier to work with. You may have to buy a package larger than 8 oz for this, to ensure you have 12 slices. If you want to slice it yourself, I recommend placing it in the freezer for 10-20 minutes before slicing it, as it will be easier to slice if it's hard.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.
This post originally appeared on Bowl of Delicious titled “Lightened-Up Eggplant Parmesan Stacks” in June, 2014. It’s been edited with new photos, revised text, and the recipe edited to have easier and faster prep time.