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Eggplant Hasselback

Updated: May 30, 2021

This super easy "wow-worthy" dish uses fresh, simple ingredients and only requires 20 minutes of prep time. It's perfect for those busy nights when you want a no stress, hands-off comfort meal.


For this dish, we are leveraging the "accordion," or "Hassleback," technique that's popular for baking potatoes. The eggplant is cut lengthwise, into 6 or 7 slices, keeping it connected at the stem. Then, the decorative "slits" are stuffed with fresh basil, tomatoes, and sliced mozzarella before baking in a spicy marinara sauce with Italian sausage.


This beautiful dish is finished with a breadcrumb and parmesan mixture during the last few minutes until the bread crumbs are perfectly golden brown. Delish!

Recipe adapted from Tasty Recipes.


This dish couldn't be any easier. The first time I had this hearty dish, my husband Trevor made it for me. That's right! My husband who doesn't cook – actually cooked. I mention this not to grumble about his lack of cooking, but rather to point out how incredibly simple it is to make! Trevor would agree with me when I say, "If he can make it, anyone can."


Once you have your eggplant sliced, it only takes a few minutes to "stuff" it with the yummy caprese-style ingredients. It goes into the oven to bake for about an hour, so you'll have plenty of time to prep a salad, enjoy a glass (or two) of wine, visit with guests, or help the kids with homework.


Eggplant has a very mild flavor, like spaghetti squash. Because it has such a mild flavor, it lends itself easily to recipes that have bold flavors – like this one. I think it is one of those veggies that many cooks may find daunting: it feels like there are a lot of rules involved in cooking eggplant to make it delicious and avoid a slimy, bitter mess. Fried or baked eggplant is probably the most common cooking methods, but they are not the only way to cook eggplant. You can also sauté, stir fry, or grill it.


For this recipe, we are doing a spin on the popular Italian favorite: eggplant parmesan – breaded eggplant slices layered lasagna style with mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce. We are trimming it a bit to make this cozy dish a little lighter.


To do this, we are not using the traditional flour, egg, and panko dredging. Instead, we are making a lighter breadcrumb topping with only 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs. Finally, by using just a few slices of mozzarella cheese, we give this comfort meal a healthy makeover, while keeping it robust, flavorful, and delicious.


To get started, you will need to brown the sausage. Alternatively, you can keep this a meat-free dish by omitting the sausage. Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage (removed from its casing) to the skillet. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it is completely browned and no longer pink. Drain any grease that's left in the pan. Add the jarred marinara to the pan. Stir to incorporate the sausage into the sauce. Cook for a few minutes until it is heated through. Turn off the heat and allow it to rest while you prepare the eggplant.


Rinse the eggplant under cold water and pat dry. Cut it lengthwise, keeping it connected at the stem. Cut it into 6 to 7 slices. Keep in mind the thicker your slices are, the longer it will take to cook.


Slice the tomato into thin slices. Alternate tomatoes, basil, and cheese into each slit.


Place the prepared sauce into a large baking dish and spread to cover the bottom. Place the stuffed eggplant directly on the sauce. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil and bake at 375 degree for about an hour. Remove from the oven and check for doneness. If it is still firm, continue to bake, using 10-minute increments until it is fork-tender.


In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Place the mixture on top of the eggplant and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.


Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing. Top with additional chopped fresh basil if desired.


This recipe makes 2 large servings but can easily be doubled to make 4.


Let's get cooking!

 

Ingredients


Gluten-free breadcrumbs:

  • 12-14 slices of gluten-free sandwich bread

  • 2 tablespoons flaked nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Eggplant Hasselback:

  • 1 small eggplant

  • 1 1/2 cups of jarred marinara sauce (be sure to check labels for gluten-free)

  • 7 ounces of Italian sausage (for gluten-free I used Al Fresco Hot Italian Style Chicken Sausage).

  • 2 to 3 small tomatoes, sliced

  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

  • 3 slices of mozzarella cheese (I used goat cheese)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used prepared minced garlic in a jar)

  • Olive oil

  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (see my recipe for gluten-free )

  • 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese ( for dairy-free I used VioLife Just Like Parmesan)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

How to make

Please sure to visit Tasty Recipes for the complete recipe and instructions.


Gluten-free breadcrumbs:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Lay the bread slices flat onto a rimmed baking sheet

  3. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue to bake for another 15 minutes or until the bread is dried and slightly browned.

  4. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes.

  5. Tear the bread into large pieces and place in the bowl of a food processer.

  6. Add nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and dried Italian seasoning.

  7. Pulse the mixture until it has reached the desired consistency.

  8. Spread the breadcrumb mixture on a large baking sheet.

  9. Bake at 300 degrees for an additional 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned and toasted.

  10. Allow to cool.

  11. Store in an airtight container for up to a month.

Eggplant Hasselback:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

  2. Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.

  3. Add the sausage (that has been removed from its casing) to the skillet.

  4. Brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.

  5. Cook until it is completely browned and no longer pink.

  6. Drain any grease left in the pan.

  7. Add the jarred marinara to the pan.

  8. Stir to incorporate the sausage into the sauce.

  9. Cook for a few minutes until it is heated through.

  10. Turn off the heat and allow it to rest while you prepare the eggplant.

  11. Rinse the eggplant until cold water and pat dry.

  12. Cut it lengthwise, keeping it connected at the stem. Cut it into 6-7 slices.

  13. Slice the tomato into thin slices.

  14. Alternate tomatoes, basil, and cheese into each slit.

  15. Place the prepared sauce into a large baking dish and spread to cover the bottom.

  16. Place the stuffed eggplant directly on the sauce.

  17. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.

  18. Drizzle with olive oil.

  19. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour.

  20. Remove from the oven and check for doneness.

  21. If it is still firm, continue to bake, using 10-minute increments until it is fork-tender.

  22. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

  23. Place the mixture on top of the eggplant and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

  24. Allow the dish to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing.

  25. Top with additional chopped fresh basil if desired.

  26. Enjoy!

  27. Please scroll to the bottom to share your comments and feedback.


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