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Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane)

August 22, 2019 by Emily

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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.

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 16 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 (convection) 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
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

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52 Comments

  • Reply
    Cassandra
    September 1, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Do you use fresh mozzarella cheese?

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      September 1, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      Hi Cassandra, yes, I use fresh mozzarella but pat it dry with kitchen paper before using so there’s not too much excess liquid.

  • Reply
    Sallie
    August 6, 2020 at 8:29 pm

    Can you use olive oil if you don’t have sunflower?

  • Reply
    Tania Saliba
    July 27, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    This is the second time I’m making this recipe. First time I made a single portion and I loved it. This evening I will be taking it with me to a friend’s as it will make a great starter. Thanks for uploading, I will see if I can attach a photo.
    I just took it out of the oven but cannot see how to post a photo.

  • Reply
    Sherri
    July 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    I didn’t know to salt the eggplant first and to use cubed mozzarella was a nice change from shredded style. Will make today for tomorrow! Thanks

  • Reply
    Victoria
    July 11, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Love this recipe, so simple. Only issue was I added the suggested amount to my pan and got it smoking hot but the eggplants went pretty oily after lots of dancing I think I managed to save it. So maybe a little less oil next time x

    • Reply
      Victoria
      July 11, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      Dabbing, not dancing 🤣

  • Reply
    Theresa
    June 26, 2020 at 4:18 am

    Loved it. Will make it over and over. Thank you for the recipe.5 stars

  • Reply
    Aleksandra
    June 5, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    The dish is in the oven and smells amazing.
    PS: I love it when after the recipe there is information about the leftovers – how many days it says well in the fridge, or is it possible to freeze.
    Thank you very much5 stars

  • 1 2

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