Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Imagine crisp eggplant layered with marinara and plenty of melted cheese. Eggplant Parmesan is a real treat and is fairly simple to make. You’ll love this vegetarian alternative to our Classic Chicken Parmesan.
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My sister-in-law gave me gorgeous eggplants from her garden and the first thing that came into my head was Baked Eggplant Parmesan. The end result provided a mouth-watering spin on a classic Italian dish that even my children love!
What is Eggplant Parmesan?
Eggplant Parmesan is a traditional Italian dish. Its Italian name is melanzane alla parmigiana. The dish is made in a shallow pan layering baked eggplant with marinara sauce and cheese.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan:
Traditionally, this tasty dish involves fried slices of eggplant to create the crisp layers like chicken parm. In our version, the eggplant is sliced and baked with a panko and parmesan coating. The tasty coating crisps the eggplant slices as they bake giving you a similar result to frying the slices – all with fewer calories, less mess, and still with plenty of delicious flavor.
Ingredients for Eggplant Parmesan:
- Eggplant: use fresh, ripe eggplant (see tips below on how to avoid bitter eggplant)
- Flour & Eggs: Dredge in flour and dip sliced eggplant in the eggs to help hold on the crisp topping
- Panko Breadcrumbs: makes a nice crunchy texture
- Parmesan Cheese: Adds a wonderful flavor to the eggplant
- Garlic: Italian food without garlic isn’t really Italian food!
- Marinara Sauce: we prefer Homemade Marinara, but store-bought works
- Fresh Basil: Optional, but a nice touch and adds freshness and color
- Mozzarella Cheese: melts and forms a beautiful crust
How to Avoid Bitter Eggplant:
Ripe eggplant has a slight give when you squeeze, but the skin pops back when you release the sides.
Eggplants have a short shelf life, so it is very important to use eggplant that is ripe and cooked soon after being picked or purchased. The older the eggplant, the more likely it is to become bitter. If you have more tips on avoiding bitter eggplant, please share them in a comment below!
How to Make Eggplant Parmesan:
1. Breading Eggplant: Line of 3 rimmed dishes in order – flour, salt, and pepper; then beaten eggs; and finally panko crumbs and parmesan cheese. Bread eggplant slices by dipping them in each bowl in order.
2. Baking the Eggplant: Place breaded eggplant onto greased baking sheets and drizzle the tops with olive oil or spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake them until tender, be sure to flip them over halfway through cooking.
3. Prepare the Sauce: We like making our Homemade Marinara Sauce adding some fresh garlic and basil.
4. Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan for Baking: Spread marinara sauce over the bottom of a pan. Then spread half of the eggplant slices, cover with mozzarella cheese and repeat the process. Bake on 375 until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.
What to Serve with Eggplant Parmesan:
This main course can be a heavy dish with lots of cheese and sauce, so I highly recommend choosing lighter side dishes to balance the entire meal. Here are some of my favorite side dishes to serve with Eggplant Parm.
- Caesar Salad: classic light dressing
- Garlic Bread: quick, easy and excellent with saucy eggplant parm
- Caprese Salad: fresh and colorful
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts: caramelized and flavorful
How to Store Eggplant Parm:
Eggplant Parmesan is a versatile dish that can be made ahead and frozen before baking or stores easily as leftovers.
- To Refrigerate: let leftovers cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
- To Freeze: wrap the assembled, but unbaked, Eggplant Parmesan in several layers of plastic wrap and freeze up to 3 months then thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bake as directed. The baking process is similar to reheating our Lasagna Roll-Ups.
More Eggplant Recipes:
If you love eggplant recipes, you are sure to find some new favorites in this list. We everything from eggplant casseroles to eggplant appetizers. P.S. That first spicy eggplant recipe is wildly delicious.
- Spicy Eggplant Recipe: Natasha’s Personal Favorite
- Eggplant Spread: A warm and creamy spread
- Eggplant Caviar: Excellent on rye toasts
- Eggplant with Red Pepper Sauce: a unique and delicious side
- Baked Eggplant Sandwiches: You’ll love the spread!
- Smadar’s Shakshuka: the authentic version with eggplant
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
This Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe fills your mouth with crisp eggplant, flavorful marinara, and plenty of melted cheese to replicate a classic Italian dish.
- 2 lbs eggplant, 2 large/3 medium/4 small, cut into 1/3" thick rounds
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Olive oil, to drizzle over eggplant and 1 Tbsp for the sauce
- 1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 24 oz good quality marinara sauce
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped, (optional, but nice)
- 1 lb shredded mozzarella, grated on the large holes
How to Bake Eggplant for Eggplant Parm:
Preheat Oven to 375˚F. Grease 2 baking sheets. Set up 3 rimmed dishes in this order: In the first one, stir together 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. In the second, beat 3 large eggs. In the third combine 1 1/2 cups panko crumbs and 1/2 cup grated parmesan. Dip eggplant slices in flour, then beaten eggs, then in the panko/parm mixture.
Place breaded eggplant onto greased baking sheets and drizzle tops with olive oil or spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake at 375˚F for 32 min, flipping the eggplant rounds and rotating the pans halfway through (my baking sheets didn't fit on one rack so I put them on separate racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven). Once done baking, remove from oven and reposition rack to the center of the oven.
How to Make the Sauce:
Place a medium saucepan over medium heat and add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Once oil is hot, add garlic and stir 1 min until fragrant. Add marinara sauce and coarsely chopped basil. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
To Assemble Eggplant Parmesan:
Spread 1/4 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 or 9x12 casserole dish. Add 1/2 eggplant slices, overlapping if needed to fit, then top with 1/2 marinara sauce and 1/2 mozzarella, Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, marinara and mozzarella. Bake uncovered at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly golden.
To avoid bitter eggplant, it's very important to use eggplant that is ripe and cook it soon after it's picked or purchased.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen