This is my absolute favorite SIBO-friendly meal. It’s surprising how the lack of garlic can be overcome by using just a few simple herbs, spices, and time to allow flavors to develop.
2 full sized jars of canned tomatoes, or 2 – 28 oz cans of diced tomatoes (see Note 1)
2 TBL fresh oregano, minced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 to 1/3 cup old (stale) red wine*
4-6 large purple eggplants (number depends on size)
Kosher salt (see Note 2)
4-5 cups of freshly grated, aged parmesan cheese (the more aged the better)
Prepare your tomato sauce: add tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon and old red wine to a cooking pot. Cook as long as you can… the longer / slower the cooking, the more flavor will develop. I like to cook my sauce for at least 2-3 hours, or simmer it all day on the back burner. Once it is well cooked, use a stick blender to make the sauce consistent, and continue to cook / simmer until you’re ready to use it.
Note 1: if you’re using canned tomatoes, check the label carefully for sodium content—it can range from 30 mg up to a whopping 480 mg depending on the brand (the imported ones from Italy were some of the highest!).
Using several large baking trays, jelly roll pans, or thin plastic chopping mats, sprinkle the tray/pan/mat(s) with kosher salt. You will lay your eggplant slices on top of this salt.
Wash the eggplants, trim off the top and bottom, slice 1/3″ thick, and arrange slices on the salted chopping mat. Sprinkle more kosher salt on top of each slice. Don’t worry about all this salt: its purpose is to draw out any bitterness from the eggplant; the resulting dish won’t be salty.
Note 2: Thanks to reader Jill for sharing her unfortunate salt experience, it’s important to point out a few salty tips: first, see Note 1 above. Canned tomatoes can contain a ton of salt. Second, regular table salt is more salty than kosher salt; I recommend using kosher salt. And not just any kosher salt… there’s a dramatic difference in the “salty-ness” of different kosher salt brands, with Morton’s kosher salt being noticeably more salty than Diamond Brand (the red box). I’ve been cooking with Diamond Brand kosher salt for years and base my recipes on its use.
Allow the eggplant slices to sit at room temperature for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, or up to several hours. Moisture will collect on and under the slices, there’s no need to remove it.
Heat a large non-stick pan to medium. Rinse off each eggplant slice to remove the salty moisture, and place into a dry pan. (You are welcome to sauté the eggplant in oil, I’ve found it to be unnecessary when you have a quality non-stick pan.) Fry the slices until golden on both sides (roughly 3-5 minutes per side, depending on your heat source). Remove and stack fried slices on a plate at room temperature. You can do this step in advance, and store the slices in your refrigerator overnight.
Note 3: Eggplant parmesan is traditionally prepared by dipping each slice in flour > egg > breadcrumbs; I have omitted this to avoid all forms of gluten.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Assemble your eggplant parmesan (pictured at left): place a small amount of your tomato sauce in the bottom of a glass 13×9 baking pan (just enough to cover the bottom). Add 1 layer of eggplant slices. Top slices with a little bit of sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the sauced slices. Repeat this layer (slices / sauce / cheese) until you have used up all your slices… ending with parmesan cheese on top. I usually start with the largest slices on the bottom, and work my way up to the medium-sized slices. You can insert the smaller ones in between.
You will probably have some tomato sauce left over… pop it into the freezer for a quick future meal!
Note 4: If you are making this for people who are not SIBO or dairy restricted, feel free to substitute a slice of mozzarella cheese for one or two of the parmesan layers, then top with parmesan. Just make sure you remember which end of your casserole dish is “dairy” versus “SIBO.” 🙂
Place assembled eggplant parmesan into the oven, uncovered, and bake for 40-60 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbles around everything.
*Whenever we can’t finish a bottle of red wine within a few days, I seal it with a wine vacuum and store it in my pantry. A dry red wine has minimal sugar to begin with; the longer you age an opened bottle, the more it turns to vinegar / the less sugar remains.