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Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane)

August 22, 2019

Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane) is the ultimate comfort food recipe. Fried aubergines/eggplant baked in a dish with tomato sauce, basil, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.

Overhead shot of eggplant parmigiana in a serving dish with cheese

Eggplant Parmigiana AKA Eggplant Parmesan or Parmigiana di Melanzane is one of my absolute favourite authentic Italian recipes.

The layers of fried eggplant, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan baked together with a simple tomato sauce just tastes like heaven.

I’ve been making this recipe for years now and I seriously never get bored of it.

Whenever I need something comforting it’s at the top of my list along with Tuscan sausage ragu, Italian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls and a good old fashioned lasagne.

There are a few stages of preparation to this dish but it’s all fairly effortless and we’ve got easy step by step photos plus a video to help you make it perfectly first time!

Trust me the extra steps are so worth it, I mean, nothing beats the smell of bubbling tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese baking in the oven, right?

Eggplant is like a vegetable sponge that soaks up a lot of flavour and making into eggplant parmigiana is the ultimate way to use it (in my opinion).

Prepping the Eggplant

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if they need to peel the eggplant first and the answer is no.

There’s no need to peel it, in fact, the skin has a lot of nutrition but it can be a little hard to digest for some people so whether you do or not is entirely up to you!

Salting the eggplant first however is a step I don’t recommend skipping! 

By lightly salting the eggplant first, it draws out a lot of moisture and prevents the eggplant parmigiana from becoming soggy or watery whilst baking.

Follow this step for the very best results (see photos 1-6 for how to do this).

A side shot of eggplant parmigiana in a rustic serving dish

How to Make Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane) – Step by Step

The first step is to salt the aubergines/eggplant. Thinly slice the aubergines and place them in a colander inside a bowl or sink, sprinkle them lightly with salt and set them aside for 1 hour.

This drains off any excess water and helps with frying (photos 1 & 2).

Meanwhile, make the simple tomato sauce. Finely chop 1 onion and sauté in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the tomato passata (pureed tomatoes) and a small bunch of basil torn with your hands.

Add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir then let it simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Set aside (photos 7 & 8).

Step by step photos for how to prepare eggplant for eggplant parmigiana

Next, rinse the aubergines/eggplant under cold water to remove the salt and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper (photos 3 & 4).

Lightly dust them in flour, shaking off any excess then fry them in sunflower oil for a few seconds each side, drain (photos 5 & 6).

Top Tip: Once you’ve dusted a batch of eggplant in flour fry them straight away or the eggplant will soak up the flour and it can turn mushy.

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4. Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and spread it around, this will stop the aubergines from sticking.

Step by step photos for assembling eggplant parmigiana

Next add one layer of aubergines to the dish followed by a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, cubes of mozzarella, a sprinkling of pepper and a little more tomato sauce. Continue with the next layer until you have one top layer left (photos 9-11).

For the top layer, spoon over the remaining tomato sauce and top with parmesan and mozzarella (photo 12).

Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes until nice and golden and bubbling on top.

Make it Healthier

This recipe will give you an authentic taste of parmigiana di melanzane but you can make it a little lighter by grilling the aubergines instead of dusting them in flour and frying them.

It still tastes delicious and is a great way to make the dish a little healthier.

Another alternative to mozzarella cheese is to use smoked scamorza cheese or smoked mozzarella…omg it’s incredible and gives the whole dish a wonderful smokey flavour.

Eggplant parmigiana in a bowl with a fork

Can You Freeze Eggplant Parmigiana?

Yes, you can make eggplant parmigiana ahead of time and freeze it or even freeze leftovers. 

If you’re prepping ahead and planning on freezing it then I recommend using a freezer-proof disposable container that can also be put in the oven such as aluminum foil trays.

That way to can cook the eggplant parmesan from frozen (180C/350F) for around 1 hour or until piping hot all the way through.

If you use a baking or casserole dish you have to wait for it to come to room temperature first before baking it which is time consuming and will turn the eggplant parmigiana wet and soggy.

Top Tips for Making the Best Eggplant Parmigiana

  • Always salt the eggplant before making this dish
  • Traditional eggplant parmigiana does not have breadcrumbs, flour is all you need.
  • Cut the eggplant around 1/4 inch (1/2cm) thick (don’t worry about being accurate just keep it thin cut).
  • Once you’ve dusted a batch of eggplant in flour fry them straight away or the eggplant will soak up the flour and it can turn mushy.
  • Use the highest quality pureed tomatoes (passata) for best results (low-quality tomatoes can ruin the whole dish)
  • You can prep this whole dish in advance and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
  • Leftovers will store well in the fridge for 3-4 days and can be reheated in the oven (covered) until piping hot all the way through. You can also eat leftovers cold with salad.
  • You can also freeze leftovers or it uncooked if prepping ahead. Use aluminum foil trays so you can reheat from frozen.

More Italian Comfort Food Recipes You Might Like:

If you’ve tried this Eggplant Parmigiana or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

Watch How to Make it

Step By Step Photos AboveMost of our recipes come with step by step photos, helpful tips and tricks to make it perfectly first time and even video!
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5 from 11 votes

Parmigiana di Melanazane

Parmigiana di Melanzane is the ultimate comfort food recipe. Fried aubergines/eggplant baked in a dish with tomato sauce, basil, parmesan and mozzarella cheese.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 442kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 2 large aubergines/eggplant around (700g/ 1.5 lbs)
  • 1.5 lbs pureed tomatoes (passata) chunky texture (700g)
  • 1 white onion
  • Small bunch of basil
  • 8.8 oz mozzarella cheese , cut into cubes (250g)
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese , freshly grated (70g)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • flour for dusting
  • sunflower oil for frying (around 1/2 cup/125ml)
  • salt and pepper to season

Instructions

  • Thinly slice the eggplant/aubergines then place them in a colander. Sprinkle them lightly with salt and set them aside for 1 hour. This drains off any excess water and helps with frying.
  • Meanwhile, make the simple tomato sauce. Finely chop 1 onion and sauté in a pan with the olive oil until translucent and soft but not browned. Add the tomato passata (pureed tomatoes) and a small bunch of basil torn with your hands. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir then let it simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. Set aside.
  • Rinse the eggplant slices under cold water and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper. Lightly dust them with flour, shaking off any excess then fry them in sunflower oil for a few seconds each side, drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C/350F/gas mark 4. I used an 11x8 inch oval dish but a rectangle or square dish around the same size will work too e.g 10x8 inch.
  • Spoon a small amount of tomato sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and spread it around, this will stop the eggplant from sticking.
  • Next add one layer of eggplant to the dish followed by a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, cubes of mozzarella, a sprinkling of pepper and couple spoons of tomato sauce (save 1/3 of the sauce for the final layer). Continue with the next layer until you have one top layer left.
  • For the top layer, spoon over the remaining tomato sauce and top with parmesan and mozzarella. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes until nice and golden and bubbling on top. Let it rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Always salt the eggplant before making this dish
  • Traditional eggplant parmigiana does not have breadcrumbs, flour is all you need.
  • Cut the eggplant around 1/4 inch (1/2cm) thick (don't worry about being accurate just keep it thin cut).
  • Once you've dusted a batch of eggplant in flour fry them straight away or the eggplant will soak up the flour and it can turn mushy.
  • Use the highest quality pureed tomatoes (passata) for best results (low-quality tomatoes can ruin the whole dish)
  • You can prep this whole dish in advance and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
  • Leftovers will store well in the fridge for 3-4 days and can be reheated in the oven (covered) until piping hot all the way through. You can also eat leftovers cold with salad.
  • You can also freeze leftovers or it uncooked if prepping ahead. Use aluminum foil trays so you can reheat from frozen.
  • Please note this recipe was tested and developed using metric measurements all imperial measurements are approximate.

Nutrition

Calories: 442kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 497mg | Potassium: 917mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 992IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 396mg | Iron: 3mg
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
  • Find out more about how nutrition is calculated here
  • Check out our must have Italian Pantry Staples here
  • You can also find all our Essential Kitchen Tools for Italian Cooking here
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33 Comments

  • Reply
    Yousra
    April 4, 2019 at 10:08 pm

    What is an accompanying dish for that?
    Thank you so much.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      April 5, 2019 at 11:13 am

      Hi Yousra, I serve this as a main course so I’d just serve it with a simple side salad and a little crusty bread but if you’d like to serve it as a side you could serve it with grilled or roasted chicken which would work great!

  • Reply
    Dave
    November 19, 2018 at 12:56 am

    I do everything you do except after my eggplant sweats and I press with a towel I perform a wash…flour on both sides then use an egg wash and then panko crumbs. Put the slices in the oven with a rack on a cookie sheet until crispy. An alternative if you don’t like fried food.

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      November 20, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Such a great idea Dave! This is one of my favourite meals ever so I’ll definitely try this lighter version!

  • Reply
    Helena Jones
    August 31, 2018 at 9:07 am

    This looks delicious, can you freeze it?

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      August 31, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Hi Helena, thanks so much. I haven’t tried freezing this before. Aubergine can hold a lot of water so I wouldn’t recommend it.

  • Reply
    Rochelle
    July 29, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    This tastes great!5 stars

  • Reply
    Claire
    April 30, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Will it impact. The taste if I fry the eggplant and make the sauce one day ahead of time?
    Thank you
    Claire

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      April 30, 2018 at 11:19 am

      Hi Claire, it’ll be totally fine to make the sauce and fry the eggplant ahead of time. It’s a great recipe for prepping ahead. Hope you enjoy!

  • Reply
    Dorothy Brown
    December 10, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    Do you peel eggplant?

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      December 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Hi Dorothy, no I don’t peel the eggplant. There’s actually a lot of goodness in the skin but you can peel it if you prefer, it tastes great either way.

  • Reply
    Karl @ Healthy Kreation
    September 3, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I’ve never tried parmigana before, but this dish looks absolutely delicious. Definitely going to have a go at this in the future. Thanks for sharing.5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      September 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

      Ahh you so need to try it, it’s one of my all time favourites and it’s perfect for the cooler weather. Thank you Karl!

  • Reply
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    September 2, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    Well, it certainly does look delicious and almost too pretty to eat. Being Italian, nothing is too pretty to eat when it’s a great Italian dish! 😋 The weather is getting chilly here – perfect for oven dishes and minestre. Your photos are truly lovely! Buona fine settimana. Un abbraccio.5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      September 3, 2017 at 10:18 am

      Grazie mille Marisa! Haha I know what you mean, it sounds like the perfect weather for it. Buona Domenica!

  • Reply
    Nadja | Nashi Food
    September 1, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    This dish looks so tasty! I will add the ingredients to my shopping list and see if I can give it a try! I love eggplants. By the way, I love your photos!5 stars

  • Reply
    Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food
    September 1, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    I am a fan of aubergine, but the rest of my family are not. This recipe looks so divine, though, that I’m going to try it on them. Because you’re right: what could be better than that gorgeous tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese? Great idea for lightening up the dish—but I’m definitely going the decadent route and frying!5 stars

  • Reply
    Patty @pattysaveurs.com
    August 31, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I love Parmigiana, such a wonderful dish, your recipe looks fantastic, will try it!5 stars

  • Reply
    Joanne |No Plate Like Home
    August 30, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    Your pix look amazing. Your recipe seems a bit easier than mine. Maybe I’ll try yours. Looking forward to seeing more of your recipes! Glad to have found your blog to follow.5 stars

  • Reply
    Catherine
    August 30, 2017 at 6:33 pm

    Gorgeous photos as always…this looks like heaven!

  • Reply
    Edyta at Innocent Delight
    August 30, 2017 at 6:20 pm

    Oh my gosh, I love eggplant parmegiana. I just made one yesterday :). I’m trying to avoid flour whenever possible so I roasted my eggplant first. I love your recipe using passata!5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      August 30, 2017 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks Edyta, that’s a great way to make the dish lighter I do that myself occasionally it’s still so delicious!

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Dishes Delish
    August 30, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    This is one of my favorite Italian meals! I love baked eggplant parm! This recipe looks fabulous and I can’t wait to try it!5 stars

  • Reply
    Brandi Crawford
    August 30, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    This looks like the best eggplant parm that I’ve seen! Gorgeous!5 stars

  • Reply
    Sandi
    August 30, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    This is making me drool, it looks seriously good for a busy school night.5 stars

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      August 30, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      It’s so good for that and it can also be prepared in advance so you can quickly pop it in the oven at dinner time. Thanks Sandi!

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