Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

How to Make Eggplant Parmigiana Better Than My Italian Mum

Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane in Italian) is undoubtedly one of my all-time favourite dishes. It’s a classic dish that comes from the Campania region of Southern Italy and dates to the 1700s when eggplant became a staple ingredient in Italian culture.

My Mum is the absolute master of this recipe and so I set myself a challenge to make it even better than hers…this way my family can enjoy the mouthwatering flavours I grew up with. Plus, eggplant is one of my wife’s favourite vegetables, so it’s an important date night meal that I know is always a winner!

Eggplant Parmigiana has delicious layers of eggplant, fresh tomato sauce, basil, and melted cheese. There are variations of the dish that use bread crumbs and eggs, and everyone’s family makes it slightly different. My mother shared with me her  Eggplant Parmigiana recipe, which was taught to her by my Nonna Igea, her Mum. Although they may not be impressed, I did tweak it a little and in my opinion, made it even better. Hopefully, they would be proud if they tasted it!

If you’re ready to make the most sensational Eggplant Parmigiana you have ever eaten, let’s get started!

Watch the Eggplant Parmigiana video recipe here:

 

How to Make EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA Better Than My Italian Mum

 

Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

Vincenzo’s Plate Tips

Never Remove the Skin

Make Eggplant Parmigiana with the skin still on the vegetable. This is part of what gives the eggplant added flavor – not bitterness as is sometimes assumed! Plus, it’s loaded with vitamins and minerals!

Always Salt the Eggplant

Eggplants are juicy vegetables that are full of water. Consequently, it’s important to salt each slice to help drain out the water and prevent them from becoming bitter and soggy during cooking. After allowing them time to rest and release water, use a paper towel to get rid of all the dampness.

Use Whole Peeled Tomatoes

Always use whole peeled tomatoes to make your sauce. They hold the most flavor and create a better texture in the sauce. If you cannot find whole peeled tomatoes in the can, you can use Passata, which consists of strained, uncooked tomatoes that are pureed, but the flavour will differ.

Don’t Chop the Basil!

Never chop the basil before adding it to sauces. Chopping the basil releases all of the herb’s delicate aromas and flavors, much of which will be left on the chopping board. This means the herb’s essence won’t make it into your dish!

Don’t Use Shredded Mozzarella – EVER.

Use fresh mozzarella only! Shredded mozzarella will ruin the dish in every way, as it’s very likely not authentic and will not allow you to create the true Italian version of this dish you desire.

Dice the Mozzarella ahead of time

Using fresh mozzarella means there will be water in the cheese and this can sometimes create excess liquid once your dish is cooked. Prepare ahead of time by removing the mozzarella from its water, dice it into small cubes and leave it inside a handheld colander placed on top of a dish in the fridge. Cover this with plastic wrap (or similar) so it doesn’t dry out. It’s best to do this either the morning before you prepare the dish or the night before.

Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

How to Serve Eggplant Parmigiana

Typically, people serve Eggplant Parmigiana in large square pieces on a plate with a little pecorino (or parmesan) cheese and basil leaves on top. Many describe it as filling and can only eat one slice..I dare you to stop at one once you have tried this version!

How to Make Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

How to Make Italian Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

Eggplant Parmigiana is a traditional Southern Italian recipe which layers the vegetable with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and of course, pecorino. The trick to making it perfect is in how you layer your eggplant slices; make sure there are no gaps between the slices, and add just the right amount of mozzarella between each layer. The cheese is what will hold everything together, and it should have the perfect amount of gooeyness as you cut into it. Then again, can there ever be too much cheese?

Equipment

  • 5x11’’ Pyrex dish 9 x 27.9cm. or alternate baking dish
  • knife
  • Spatula
  • Chopping-board
  • Large colander
  • Large plates
  • Large bowls
  • Baking Paper
  • Aluminum foil
  • Food processor
  • large pot
  • Medium to large frying pan

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Kg Medium-sized eggplants 70.5oz
  • ½ onion roughly chopped
  • 1 whole carrot d roughly chopped
  • 3 cans Whole peeled Italian tomatoes 441g/14.5oz each
  • 500 g Fresh mozzarella 17.6oz
  • Pecorino cheese the amount is up to you
  • 2 handfuls Basil fresh
  • All-purpose flour to coat the eggplant
  • 5 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil EVOO
  • Salt and pepper as much as required
  • Sunflower oil to fry the eggplant

Instructions
 

To prepare the eggplant:

  • Start by removing the top and butt of the eggplant. Then slice eggplant vertically into 1cm (almost ½ an inch) thick pieces. Slice off just part of the skin on the outer rounded sides to ensure these pieces cook efficiently.
  • Place half of the eggplant slice in the colander, spreading them as far apart as possible. Add a generous amount of salt to the first layer, and then repeat this process with the rest.
  • Once the eggplant slices have been generously salted, take some baking paper and lay it on top of the colander. Place the colander on top of a plate or in the sink, and place something very heavy on top of the colander to help get the rest of the water out of the eggplant slices. Leave it like this for at least 20 minutes.
  • While the eggplant is draining, prepare the sauce.

For the sauce:

  • Start by chopping the carrot and onion into large sections. Put them in the food processor and add about 5-6 tbsp of EVOO plus a splash of water. Blend until nice and creamy. This will be the soffritto.
  • Now, gently blend the whole peeled tomatoes — this is how Passata is made!
  • Next, place the large pot on the stove and heat it over medium heat. Once heated, add the blended soffritto and stir. Add a little bit of water (about 2 tbsp) to keep it from burning, then cover and let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, add the crushed tomatoes to the soffritto, which by then should be darker in color – although once combined, it will lighten the tomatoes significantly, so expect a light red sauce. Stir well and leave to cook for about 20 minutes, covered on low heat.
  • Once ready, uncover the sauce and add a generous amount of salt and pepper, then mix through using the wooden spoon.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat, pull about a handful of basil leaves from the stems, and add them to the sauce. Stir well and let the sauce rest.

For frying the eggplant:

  • Add flour to a large bowl (enough to coat each eggplant slice).
  • One by one, dip each side of the eggplant slices in the flour to coat them well and set aside. The eggplant slices will still be wet, so they should pick up the flour easily.
  • Add sunflower oil to the frying pan (enough to cover up to three inches of the pan) and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Add the eggplant slices to the hot oil and fry them for a few minutes, turning them over frequently to check the color. When the slices turn a nice golden brown, they’re ready!
  • Remove each slice as they cook through and transfer to a plate lined with baking paper. Line up the slices on the plate and don’t layer them until they have extra paper towels in between to help absorb excess oil.

To assemble the Eggplant Parmigiana:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
  • Slice the mozzarella cheese into 1cm slices and then dice into smaller cubes. This will help the cheese melt beautifully into the dish. If you have prepared ahead, this should already be done. If not, strain the water out as much as possible.
  • Now, spoon a thin layer of sauce into the baking dish and add the eggplant slices side by side. Make sure there are no gaps! (You may have to search for thinner pieces or cut the slices to size so it all fits together nicely, like a jigsaw puzzle.)
  • Add another layer of the sauce (a little thicker this time so it completely covers the eggplant.) Add about 8-10 basil leaves on top, making sure they are spread out, and then some pecorino cheese (just a sprinkle) and mozzarella. Add a generous amount, but don’t allow the cubes to overlap.
  • Repeat the layering process, gently pressing the next layer of eggplant down to create space. When you get to the top/last layer, cover the eggplant slices with a generous coating of the sauce — and don’t add any more basil or cheese.
  • Cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, take the Eggplant Parmigiana out of the oven and add a dusting of pecorino cheese on top. Now, put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes to melt the pecorino.
  • Remove the Eggplant Parmigiana from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then, take a knife and make a long cut down the center and then horizontal cuts, making a total of 8 squares. Scoop out a square with a spatula and put it on a plate.
  • Add some more pecorino cheese if you’d like, and top with a few pieces of basil.

Video

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!

Eggplant Pamrigiana Vincenzo's Plate

Did you know that there are many variations of Eggplant Parmigiana?

How to make Eggplant Parmigiana with Seafood

  • EGGPLANT PASTA. In this recipe, it’s like having eggplant parmigiana as a topping for your spaghetti… isn’t it amazing?

Calabrese Eggplant Pasta Recipe

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2 Responses to Eggplant Parmigiana Recipe

  1. CuCuJohn April 19, 2024 at 2:28 PM #

    Do you have a link for the baking dish? I can’t find anything by Pyrex aside from their standard 9×13 inch. Thanks!

    • Vincenzo's Plate April 19, 2024 at 2:43 PM #

      Great question! If you only have a 9×13-inch dish available, you can still make delicious eggplant parmigiana. This size is a bit larger than the 7.5×11-inch dish recommended in the recipe, so you might want to slightly increase the quantity of each ingredient to ensure the dish fills out nicely. However, if you prefer not to adjust the ingredient amounts, you can use the same quantities; just be aware that the layers will be a bit thinner and the cooking time might need a slight reduction to prevent overcooking. Either way, it will still taste fantastic!

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