“Good things take time,” should be the credo for this eggplant Parmesan recipe. Believe us. When you remove this dish of breaded eggplant smothered in tangy tomato sauce with something like a crispy, cheesy top from the oven, your efforts will then be rewarded. Do you want some reassurance? “This was by far the nicest eggplant meal I ever prepared,” one commenter says.
Best Eggplant Parmesan Recipe You Should Try Now
You can do the work in parts over a few days. The handmade marinara sauce makes a huge difference, so don’t skimp on it. This one is loaded with tomato, wine, plenty of garlic, and anchovies (the mystery to everything) and may be made up to two days in advance, the taste may even improve after a day of blending. What about the herby panko breadcrumb mixture with fried eggplant? Make those on the day you intend to layer everything together. Making them fresh keeps the herbs lively. The entire dish may be made and cooked two days ahead of time—just make more room in the refrigerator for the casserole dish and microwave when ready.
Allow this eggplant Parmesan to cool at room temperature for a minimum of half an hour after baking if you want to serve it as an ideal block with some structural integrity (as shown in the photo above). There is no need for garnish, but fresh basil is always appreciated. Serve it with a simple side dish such as a green salad topped with extra Parmesan cheese shavings for supper. Let’s see our 3 different eggplant parm recipes that will impress you!
What exactly is eggplant parmesan?
Eggplant parmesan, like chicken parmesan, is a popular Italian American casserole made of fried cutlets (in this scenario, sliced eggplant) covered with a basic marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese and baked till hot and bubbly.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
This Italian-style eggplant Parmesan dish is lighter than most because it uses roasted (rather than fried) eggplant pieces and no breading. It’s also gluten-free! This recipe makes one 9-inch square eggplant Parm, which serves around 8 people. It’s certainly the best eggplant parmesan recipe on this list!
Baked eggplant parmesan ingredients
- 3 lbs of eggplant (about 3 smallish or 2 medium)
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt
- 1 medium coarsely chopped yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
- 14¼ cup tomato puree
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes (ideally fire-roasted)
- ¼ cup fresh basil roughly chopped, plus extra basil for garnish
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 oz. finely grated part-skim mozzarella cheese (about 1 ½ cups packed)
- 2 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated (nearly 1 cup)
Baked eggplant parmesan recipe instructions
- Step 1: Warm the oven to 425 degrees F, using racks in the lowest and top thirds of the oven. To make cleanup easier, line two big-rimmed baking pans with parchment paper.
- Step 2: Remove both rounded ends of one eggplant and place it on its largest flat side. Slice the eggplant vertically to create long, even slabs ¼- to ½ inches thick. Remove the eggplant skin from both sides and set aside. Repeat with the remaining eggplant (s).
- Step 3: Brush both surfaces of the eggplant slabs gently with olive oil (around ¼ cup of oil is likely). Place them on the baking sheets in a thin layer. Season the top sides with a bit of salt and pepper as desired. Roast for 22–27 minutes, or until golden and tender. Halfway through baking, flip the pans 180 degrees and swap their places (moving the pan from the lower rack to the top rack, and conversely). The pan on the bottom rack may require a few more minutes in the oven to turn golden. Place aside.
- Step 4: Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce as follows: Warm two tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan on medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for four to seven minutes, or until the onion is very soft and transparent.
- Step 5: Combine the garlic and tomato paste in a mixing bowl. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in the smashed tomatoes and heat the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened well about fifteen minutes. Remove from the heat and add the salt, basil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust the salt as needed (We generally add another ¼ tsp).
- Step 6: Spread approximately ¾ cup of the sauce in the bottom of a 9″ square baker once ready to assemble. Arrange approximately one-third of the eggplant slices over the sauce, gently overlapping and cutting to fit if required. Spread another ¾ cup of sauce over the eggplant and top with ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese.
- Step 7: Place about the remaining half of the eggplant slices on top in an equal layer. Spread another ¾ cup of sauce on top, followed by ¼ cup of mozzarella cheese. Layer the rest eggplant slices on top, followed by ¾ cup of sauce (there may be some leftover) and the leftover mozzarella cheese. Spread the Parmesan evenly over top.
- Step 8: Bake uncovered at 425 degrees F for twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until the sauce boils and the top is brown. Leave it to cool for at least 15 minutes in order for it to solidify before chopping and sprinkling more basil on top. Serve with a sharp knife slice.
- Step 9: Leftovers store nicely for about 4 days, wrapped and refrigerated. Before serving, reheat the dish.
Baked Recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Tips
Cut the eggplant as evenly as possible. Even cooking requires even slices, so try to trim your eggplant slices to a regular width. You do not want some components to become overcooked before others! The fresh mozzarella should be cut to a constant thickness to ensure even melting and browning.
Grate the Parmesan cheese just before serving. If you get a quality chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano (or perhaps even pecorino cheese) and grate it manually, your eggplant Parmesan will have a greater taste.
Apply a generous layer of panko to the eggplant pieces. Some of the nicest textures and flavors in this recipe come from the combination of Parmesan, herbs, panko, and red pepper flakes, so don’t scrimp on that delicious crispy coating!
Don’t forget to add olive oil! Before putting the breaded eggplant slices in the oven, sprinkle them with oil. It’s necessary for the panko to be golden brown and crisp.
Season in between layers. The flavor of your eggplant Parmesan will be determined by the marinara and Parmesan cheese you choose. We also want to season the finished dish with a small amount of salt and just a few grinds of pepper between both the layers of eggplant and cheese using our handmade marinara sauce.
Fried Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
This easy eggplant parmesan recipe will help you impress your family and friends!
Fried eggplant parmesan ingredients
- Yield: 4 to 5 entree servings
- 8 to 10 small eggplants
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 cups dry bread crumbs or panko, seasoned with 1 teaspoon each salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and dried oregano
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 cups of tomato sauce, preferably homemade
- 4 to 6 ounces of packaged mozzarella, shredded or diced
- Freshly minced basil or parsley, for serving
Fried eggplant parmesan recipe instructions
- Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a big ovenproof wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet.
- Step 2: Beginning just below the stem, chop each eggplant lengthwise into 14-inch-thick slices, retaining them attached at the stem with a thin, sharp knife. Arrange the eggplant slices on paper towels then press down to fan them out. Set aside and season with salt on both sides.
- Step 3: Take 2 cups of ice water. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, egg yolks, and 1⁄2 the water until almost smooth, then add the remaining water. If the batter appears too thick, add a bit more water; it should be fluid, like glue.
- Step 4: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the bread crumbs and seasonings and gently stir and crush them together with your hands.
- Step 5: Warm a generous 12 inches of vegetable oil in a big, deep skillet until bubbling (about 350 degrees F).
- Step 6: Operating in batches, dip eggplants in batter, then bread crumbs, and place in skillet. Fry for 3 minutes, or until the bottom is beautifully browned. If the eggplants are darkening too fast, turn down the heat. Fry until the other side is browned, about three minutes more. Sprinkle with salt and transfer to the rack positioned over the baking sheet; leave the baking sheet and rack heated in the oven while you cook the remaining eggplant.
- Step 7: Heat the marinara sauce in a large skillet over medium heat until simmering. Make 8 to 10 heaps of mozzarella (1 for each eggplant). Pick up the stacks of cheese and place them in the sauce, spacing them out so they melt independently. This might need to be done in two batches.
- Step 8: Arrange the eggplants on plates. Serve a teaspoon of sauce beside or on top of each eggplant. Use a slotted spoon to remove the melted mozzarella from the sauce. Serve immediately garnished with fresh herbs.
How to Make Vegan Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan
Make Gluten-Free Vegan Eggplant Parmesan, super healthy shared by today’s top chefs
Gluten-free eggplant parmesan recipe ingredients
- 1/2 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or other neutral dairy-free milk)
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)
- 1 gluten-free flour cup
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (or arrowroot starch)
- 1 tsp healthy sea salt
- 1/3 of a cup of gluten-free panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon vegan parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 long, slender eggplant, chopped into 1/8th inch rounds
- 4 teaspoons neutral cooking oil
- 1 cup Simple Marinara Sauce (or your favorite store-bought sauce)
- 8-10 oz. cooked spaghetti (such as penne, linguini, or spiralized vegetables)
- 1 batch of 30 minutes Alfredo Sauce with Cashews
Gluten-free eggplant parm recipe instructions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius) and prepare a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. In addition, make your dipping stations by combining cornstarch and almond milk in one dish, cornstarch, gluten-free flour, and sea salt in another, and gluten-free panko bread crumbs, vegan parmesan cheese, oregano, cornmeal, and sea salt in another.
If eating with pasta and sauces, prep now. When the pasta is ready, drain it and cover it in a towel to maintain its temperature. Set aside.
Next, immerse the eggplant slices in the flour mixture, and so the almond milk mixture, and last the breadcrumb mixture, and place the dipped rounds on a clean plate or bowl.
Melt butter in a large skillet on medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil after the pan is heated. Allow the oil to heat for one minute. Then, cook 4-5 eggplant rounds at a time for 2-3 minutes per side, or until light golden brown. Then place the prepped baking sheet in the oven to allow the eggplant to begin baking.
Brown the eggplant in stages until all of the rounds are browned and placed in the oven, adding extra oil to the cooking pan as necessary and turning down the heat if the eggplant rounds are browning too fast.
Bake eggplant for about ten to fifteen minutes, turning it over once halfway through baking to make sure even baking, or until it is crispy and golden brown. Serve either plain or with the desired sides and sauces. We enjoy serving our cashew alfredo and gluten-free pasta alongside our eggplant parm and marinara sauce for dipping.
Fresh is ideal. However, you can keep leftover chilled eggplant in the fridge for up to two days if it is covered. Reheat to a hot state on a baking sheet in a 350° F (176° C) oven.
Variations and Creative Twists
For a gourmet twist, try using a blend of cheeses such as Fontina and Gruyere, adding a nutty and sophisticated flavor. You can also experiment with adding layers of thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash for a colorful and wholesome variation. For a healthier option, consider baking the eggplant slices instead of frying them. This yields a lighter yet equally satisfying Eggplant Parmesan experience.
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For an elevated twist on the classic, consider incorporating a homemade pesto sauce between the layers of eggplant, adding a burst of fresh basil and pine nut goodness to each bite. To introduce a protein-packed dimension, layer cooked quinoa or lentils along with the cheese for a heartier rendition. Lastly, for a Mediterranean fusion, replace the traditional marinara with a sun-dried tomato and roasted red pepper sauce, infusing the dish with a delightful smokiness and tanginess that perfectly complements the creamy cheese and tender eggplant.
Why are we salting the eggplant?
Eggplant has a ton of water in it, which can make it difficult to bread and fry. Salting the eggplant slices causes them to release some of their water through osmosis, resulting in eggplant that is firmer and easier to crisp up. For best results, let the eggplant sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature once you’ve salted it– it needs some time for the salt to draw out that excess moisture.
How can you avoid having soggy eggplant parm?
The last thing you want is a mushy serving of eggplant parm after all the work that goes into breading and frying the crispiest eggplant! This problem can be controlled by taking a few crucial actions.
Keep the eggplant frying oil at the proper temperature first. The eggplant can be cooked at 350 degrees without absorbing too much oil and turning soggy. (This commonly occurs when the eggplant oil cools down too much.) To monitor the temperature, fasten a thermometer to your pan.
Second, use a reasonable amount of sauce when making the casserole, and bake it uncovered. There is just 3/4 cup of sauce between every layer of this casserole when it is baked. Enough to give the meal a strong tomato taste without drowning it in the sauce. Do you like it really saucy? On the side, dispense additional warm marinara or tomato sauce.
The casserole is then cooked in the open air. This prevents any steam from building up while baking and keeps the casserole from becoming soggy.
How will the eggplant be breaded?
The eggplant is breaded using the standard three-step method in this recipe, which entails dredging it in seasoned flour, immersing it in beaten eggs, and then covering it in a panko breadcrumb mix. For added taste, we’ve also added a bit of dried oregano and grated parmesan cheese to our panko mixture.
How To Peel Eggplant The Easy Way?
The eggplant’s ends should be cut off.
The broad flat end of the eggplant should be at the bottom of a cutting board.
Remove the skin from the eggplant by beginning on the top and following the curve all the way to the bottom with a sharp knife. Avoid removing too much flesh.
In the end, any remaining scraps of skin can be cut off.
What sauce are we using?
A good sauce is a key to eggplant parm. This recipe covers steps for preparing a simple but delectable homemade marinara. If you really want to, you can use the jarred stuff. Our honest opinion? Since you’re putting in the extra work with the eggplant, you might as well go the distance with the sauce as well. It only takes a few minutes to throw together, and you can let it simmer on the stove while you prep other things.
What to Serve With Eggplant Parmesan
A variety of side dishes go well with the robust Italian classic of oven-baked eggplant Parmesan. To offset the dish’s richness and amp up the fire, serve it with a spicy bruschetta or a crisp broccoli salad.
Choose a creamy garlic soup to serve alongside eggplant parmesan for an impressive addition, or stick with traditional crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.
Can You Freeze Eggplant Parmesan?
If properly refrigerated, baked eggplant Parmesan keeps in the fridge for three to five days. For optimal effects, keep it in an airtight container. Bake the dish or any leftovers in a preheated oven until the edges begin to bubble.
You can freeze cooked eggplant Parmesan for a maximum of three months. Store in freezer-safe baking pans with tight lids or in freezer bags. Because eggplant is extremely absorbent, it is best eaten the day it is baked, so be warned that the quality will degrade with time. Hope that from the comprehensive guide, you can find your favorite eggplant parmesan recipe!
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