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Italian Eggplant Parmesan is the ultimate vegetarian, low-carb comfort food recipe! Think of it as lasagna made with sliced eggplant instead of pasta!

eggplant parmesan in a baking pan

Eggplant Parmesan, also known as Parmigiana di Melanzane, is an iconic Italian side dish made with eggplant, parmesan, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. It’s layered and baked until golden brown and bubbling. Similar to this vegetarian lasagna, but made without pasta and therefore gluten-free and low-carb.

Table of Contents

It’s a fantastic side dish, full of flavor, and you will feel like sitting in a restaurant in the middle of a small Italian town. In fact, I ordered Parmigiana di Melanzane in a small Restaurant in Verona (the Italian city where Julia & Romeo was filmed). It was so delicious that I had to share it on my blog so that you can cook it at home!

parmigiana di melanzane in a bowl

Melanzane is the Italian word for eggplant, the main ingredient of this flavorful dish. Eggplant is not the easiest vegetable to cook with, but it turns out to be quite fantastic when prepared right. 

I have to admit that the recipe is quite time-consuming but not difficult to make. There are a few steps involved to get the best out of the eggplant. But it’s totally worth it! Soft eggplant in a home-cooked tomato sauce with fresh basil leaves and melted cheese in between – can you imagine?

You can serve eggplant parmesan as a side dish with pasta or polenta. Or enjoy it as dinner with this green salad and fresh bread. Makes also an outstanding vegetarian starter.

baked eggplant parmesan topped with fresh basil

Ingredients

See recipe card for quantities.

  • Eggplants → Main ingredient. Go for 2 large or 3 medium eggplants.
  • Parmesan → The essential component for flavoring! 
  • Mozzarella → For that extra molted cheese layer.
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes → Can be substituted with tomato passata.
  • Onion, Garlic, Fresh Basil → To enhance the flavor!
Eggplant Parmesan Ingredients

Instructions

This visual step-by-step instruction will help you along the way on how to make eggplant parmigiana – definitely recommended if you’re a cooking beginner! 

  • Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise. Rub with 2 tsp salt, place in a colander, and set aside for 30-60 minutes to drain off excess water. → Aim for 60 minutes, but 30 minutes will do if you are hungry. 😉
  • Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Note: Tossing eggplant with salt will help remove excess moisture as eggplants contain lots of water and can get soggy if skipped. I recommend salting & draining your eggplant for every eggplant recipe, resulting in a better flavor. Anywhere between 30-60 minutes is good.

Baking Eggplant – Option 1 (see pictures)

  • Preheat oven to 430°F (220°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Arrange eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheets, brush with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes until browning, flipping the eggplant halfway.
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Step 1-6

Frying Eggplant – Option 2

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush eggplants with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and fry each side of the eggplant until browning. → Work with two skillets to speed up the frying process!

Note: I am giving you two options here. Baking your eggplant is definitely way easier! Frying them adds a beautiful flavor, but it’s not the most enjoyable job. Your house will get a bit messy, and you have to be very attentive. Definitely use two large skillets when frying; this is going to speed up the cooking process! If unsure, go for Option 1!

Tomato Sauce

  • Heat a pot with olive oil. Add minced onion and garlic, sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add canned tomatoes, basil leaves, and oregano. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Blend tomato sauce with an immersion blender. → It doesn’t need to be totally smooth. Some chunks are welcome!
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Step 7-9
  • Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).
  • Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce into a baking dish. Top with a single layer of eggplant, tomato sauce, grated parmesan cheese, and diced mozzarella. Repeat layers until you run out of eggplant, finishing with sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella.
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Step 10-13
  • Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown, bubbling, and the cheese is melted. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
freshly baked eggplant parmesan

Hint: Do not skip the eggplant preparation steps! It’s time-consuming, I know, but worth it! 

Storage & Make-Ahead Instructions

Store baked eggplant parmesan in an airtight container in the fridge, or simply wrap the cold baking dish with plastic wrap (easiest to reheat). Good for 3-4 days. 

Reheat for 20 minutes in the preheated oven at 355°F (180°C).

Prepare eggplant parmesan (but do not bake) up to one day in advance and store it wrapped with plastic wrap in the refrigerator. Bake per recipe timings when you are ready!

Facts About Eggplant

Eggplant, opposite to most thinking, is considered a fruit and not a vegetable. It is developed from a nightshades flower and contains small edible seeds. Botanically classified as a berry!

Eggplants are high in fiber and low in calories. In addition, the skin of eggplants, especially the purple ones, contain antioxidant.

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📖 Recipe

eggplant parmesan in a baking pan

Eggplant Parmesan – Parmigiana di Melanzane

Italian Eggplant Parmesan is the ultimate vegetarian, low-carb comfort food recipe! Think of it as lasagna made with sliced eggplant instead of pasta!
Author : Aline Cueni
4.50 from 2 votes

Click on the stars to leave a vote!

Prep Time :45 minutes
Cook Time :55 minutes
Total Time :1 hour 40 minutes
Servings : 6
Calories : 299kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 2 large eggplants or 3 medium eggplants, approx. 2 lb/900g
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup (100 g) parmesan cheese grated
  • 1 ½ cup (150 g) mozzarella diced

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 x 28 oz can (800 g) diced tomatoes
  • ½ bunch basil leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Thinly slice eggplant lengthwise. Rub with 2 tsp salt, place in a colander, and set aside for 30-60 minutes to drain off excess water. → Aim for 60 minutes, but 30 minutes will do if you are hungry. 😉
  • Rinse eggplant under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Baking Eggplant – Option 1

  • Preheat oven to 430°F (220°C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Arrange eggplant in a single layer on the baking sheets, brush with 4 tablespoons of olive oil, and bake for 20 minutes until browning, flipping the eggplant halfway.

Frying Eggplant – Option 2

  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush eggplants with 4 tablespoons of olive oil and fry each side of the eggplant until browning. → Work with two skillets to speed up the frying process!

Tomato Sauce

  • Heat a pot with olive oil. Add minced onion and garlic, sauté until translucent and fragrant. Add canned tomatoes, basil leaves, and oregano. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Blend tomato sauce with an immersion blender. → It doesn't need to be totally smooth. Some chunks are welcome!
  • Preheat oven to 355°F (180°C).
  • Spoon a thin layer of tomato sauce into a baking dish. Top with a single layer of eggplant, tomato sauce, grated parmesan cheese, and diced mozzarella. Repeat layers until you run out of eggplant, finishing with sauce, parmesan cheese, and mozzarella.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Notes

  • Baking Eggplant vs Frying Eggplant: Baking eggplant is a little easier, but frying them will make up for a better taste. Go for the baking method if unsure, but if you have time and don’t mind that your house will be a little smelly, fry them. 😉
  • Keeps fresh for 3-4 days. Store it in an airtight container, or simply wrap the cold baking dish with plastic wrap (easiest to reheat), in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat for 20 minutes in the preheated oven 355°F (180°C).

Nutrition

Calories: 299kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 33mg | Sodium: 1222mg | Potassium: 420mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 362mg | Iron: 1mg

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Recipe Rating




4.50 from 2 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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