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  • Writer's pictureMarissa Aiuto

Sicilian Eggplant Parmesan (vegan, gluten-free)

One of my biggest cooking inspirations is my Nonna Rosa. She is the best cook I know, and even though she's in her 80s, she still insists on spending the entire day on Christmas Eve preparing our family's full Christmas Day dinner. If you've ever heard that the secret ingredient to delicious cooking is love, I'm certain that she adds an extra cup of it to every dish she makes!

My absolute favorite summertime dish is her Sicilian Eggplant Parmesan, which is NOTHING like Italian-American eggplant parmesan. The dish you know is served hot and made with layers of fried, breaded eggplant and mozzarella cheese. The Sicilian version is served room temperature or cold, it's not breaded, and there's no mozzarella. It's my Nonna's go-to dish to bring to any family BBQ, and even if she makes extra, it's never enough!

Nonna uses a mixture of grated parmesan cheese and grated garlic in her recipe. If you're dairy-free for any reason at all, you're in luck! I modified the traditional version with a dairy-free version because as much as Peter loves cheese, he's actually very allergic to it. Nonna also pan-fries the eggplant in her recipe, but in all honestly, who wants to stand over a pan of hot oil, frying eggplant in the heat of the summer?! So, my version involves a quick 30 minute all-at-once bake!

I served this dish (without mentioning it was dairy-free) to my parents, my sister, and my brother-in-law last week and they had no idea it was dairy-free, they loved it. They thought it tasted just as delicious as the original - although Nonna's will always taste the best!

I hope you enjoy this dish with your family, and love it just as much as mine does!


  • 2 medium eggplants, peeled & sliced into thick rounds (about 1/2-inch)

  • olive oil

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup tomato sauce of choice (I of course make my own using Nonna Rosa's recipe, but you can use a jarred sauce)

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free parmesan cheese (see ingredients below)

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, grated or minced

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons (aka chiffonade)

Dairy-Free "Parmesan"

  • 1/2 cup roasted, un-salted cashews

  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Add eggplant rounds to baking sheet, drizzle generously with olive oil, salt & pepper on both sides. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

  3. While the eggplant bakes, make your sauce of choice and dairy-free "parmesan"

  4. To make dairy-free "parmesan": add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until it's a fine meal-y texture. You can make extra and store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh for a few weeks!

  5. In a small bowl, combine your "parm", grated garlic, and basil (reserving some basil for garnish)

  6. Once the eggplant is slightly cooled, add a thin layer of sauce to the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Add a layer of the eggplant rounds, overlapping the edges. Add another thin layer of sauce and sprinkle some of the "parmesan" mixture over all of the eggplant. Continue layering (eggplant, sauce, parm) until you don't have any rounds left.

  7. Garnish with more fresh basil. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour or up to overnight to serve cold, or serve at room temperature.

If you make this recipe, please share and tag me @bewellwithmarissa !

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