Vegetable parmesan is a great vegetarian Italian dish for when you’re feeding people with dietary restrictions, or if you’re just looking to switch things up. This recipe calls for eggplant, fennel, and bell peppers, but you can use whatever vegetables you love or have on hand. You don’t have to make your own marinara sauce, either — but it’s totally worth it to take a few minutes to make store-bought sauce taste better!
Of all the recipes I’ve done for Giada at Home on TV, this one has been the biggest hit with both viewers and my crew. I’ve always said that if you want to get kids (and picky adults) to eat something, bake it with marinara and cheese and they’ll be demanding seconds. You’ll be happy because they’re eating lots of healthy veggies, they’ll be happy because it tastes awesome, and as an added bonus, your kitchen will smell fantastic, too.
- Unsalted butter for the pan
- 1 medium eggplant cut into ¼- to ½-inch-thick slices
- 2 medium fennel bulbs trimmed and sliced ¼ inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into thirds
- 1 yellow bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into thirds
- 1 orange bell pepper cored, seeded, and cut into thirds
- ¼ cup olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce
- 3 cups 12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup plain dried bread crumbs
- Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish.
- Toss the eggplant, fennel, and bell peppers with the ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the vegetables for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until softened.
- Spoon ¾ cup of the marinara sauce over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Arrange the eggplant slices on top. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and ⅓ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Arrange the peppers in a single layer on top. Spoon ¾ cup of the marinara sauce over the peppers. Sprinkle with 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese and ⅓ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Layer the fennel on top and cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden and forms a crust. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
- Cook's Note: The vegetables can also be baked in a 375°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened.