Eggplant Parmigiana (melanzane alla parmigiana)

Eggplant parmigiana (Melanzane alla parmigiana) is an italian dish made with fried eggplants, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano cheese. The ultimate comfort food that every italian loves.

The simplicity of this dish is what makes it so special. Even when eggplants aren’t in season, this eggplant dish will make an appearance at any Sunday lunch.

A baking dish with melanzane all parmigiana showing the inside texture.

What is eggplant parmigiana?

Eggplant parmigiana is the english name for parmigiana di melanzane, also know as melanzane alla parmigiana is an italian casserole dish made with layers of fried eggplant slices, tomato sauce, parmigiano and mozzarella cheese.

The dish then is baked to allow the eggplant to absorb the sauce and the cheese to melt; resulting in a scrumptious meal so rich and full of flavour.

The origin of this dish is unknown since all regions from south to north claim to be the ones that invented this recipe. Because of this, some variations are also available.

The dish straight from the oven with melty cheese on top.

Variations

In Sicily for example is common to find this dish using Caciocavallo cheese instead parmigiano; while in Naples mozzarella di bufala is the favourite cheese to make the recipe.

Also, some recipes ask to bread the eggplant slices before frying, which turns in a more rich and savoury dish.

The name

Even though there are some theories about the name of this dish coming from the cheese name (parmigiano); Italians have figured out and truly believe that the name actually comes from the Sicilian dialect: parmiciana a word that means “persians” which happens to resemble the layers of sliced vegetables.

That’s why parmigiana is not a name exclusively for the eggplant dish, instead, there are also parmigiana di zucchini and parmigiana di patate. Made with zucchini and potatoes respectively.

Photo from above of the dish.

Step by Step Recipe

Cut the mozzarella cheese into small cubes. Place it into a colander and let it drain while continuing with the preparation of the recipe.

Slice eggplants around 1,2 cm (1,4″) thick and place them in layers into a colander inside a bowl; sprinkle with salt each layer and set aside for 30 minutes.

Eggplant on a colander

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Finely chop 1 onion and sauté with a teaspoon of extravirgin olive oil until translucent. Add the tomato sauce and a some basil leaves torn with your hands. Season with salt and pepper, stir then let it simmer gently for 15 minutes. Set aside.

Sauce for La parmigiana

Now, rinse the eggplant slices under cold water to remove the salt and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper. Fry the slices in olive oil until they soft and start to brown.

Frying aubergines on a pan.

Put two tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, then add one layer of fried eggplant.

Making eggplant layers on a baking dish.

Sprinkle with parmigiano then add mozzarella cubes. Add more sauce, then repeat the layers of eggplant > parmigiano > mozzarella, until all ingredients are gone.

Eggplant parmigiana in a oven dish ready for baking.

Heat the oven at 190°C / 375F . Cover loosely the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and keep baking for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling on top.

Let the eggplant parmigiana set from 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • If you use fresh mozzarella to make eggplant parmigiana, is important to let is drain it’s liquid for a few minutes. Otherwise it will release it when baking it and you’ll end with a soupy dish, instead the firm, well placed layers of vegetables and cheese.
  • If eggplants are in season there’s not need to let them draw their bitterness. Just slice and fry.
  • In some southern versions, the slices of eggplant are dredged in flour or bread crumbs before frying.
  • You can prepare this dish in advance and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
  • For a more richer version of this dish, add between layers some thin slices of mortadella.
  • You can serve this dish as a main with some antipasti such as Mozzarella Fritta or Zeppole. Or it can also be served as a side dish for Stuffed Veal With Mushrooms or Roasted Veal Roll.

What to do with leftovers

My husband loves eggplant parmigiana leftovers, so much that he always ask me to do a lot more so he can eat it for 2-3 days straight. His favourite way of eating this dish leftovers is in a panino (sandwich). A good ciabatta bread or homemade focaccia is all he needs. The sauce will soak the bread and…mamma mia!

For me, will be enough just eat it at room temperature with cabbage salad or cucumber salad on the side. A nice vegetarian dinner for those busy days.

You can also freeze leftovers, but do it preferably in aluminum foil trays so you can reheat them straight from the freeze.

parmigiana de berenjenas

Melanzane alla parmigiana

Melanzane alla parmigiana is an italian dish made with fried eggplants, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmigiano cheese. The ultimate comfort food that every italian loves.
PREP 30 minutes
COOK 1 hour
TOTAL 4 hours
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • a 8"x12" (20×30 cm) baking dish

Ingredients 

  • 2 ½ lb eggplant
  • 2 ½ cups tomate sauce without seasonings
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 lb mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ½ cup Parmigiano or Caciocavallo cheese (grated)
  • Olive oil
  • Basil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Cut the mozzarella cheese into small cubes. Place it into a colander and let it drain while continuing with the preparation of the recipe.
  • Slice eggplants around 1,2 cm (1,4″) thick and place them in layers into a colander inside a bowl; sprinkle with salt each layer and set aside for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Finely chop 1 onion and sauté with a teaspoon of extravirgin olive oil until translucent. Add the tomato sauce and a some basil leaves torn with your hands. Season with salt and pepper, stir then let it simmer gently for 15 minutes. Set aside.
  • Enjuagar las berenjenas, secarlas cuidadosamente con papel y freírlas en aceite por ambos lados sin que se doren demasiado.
  • Now, rinse the eggplant slices under cold water to remove the salt and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper. Fry the slices in olive oil until they soft and start to brown.
  • Put two tablespoons of tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dish, then add one layer of fried eggplant.
  • Sprinkle with parmigiano then add mozzarella cubes. Add more sauce, then repeat the layers of eggplant > parmigiano > mozzarella, until all ingredients are gone.
  • Heat the oven at 190°C / 375°F . Cover loosely the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and keep baking for another 15 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling on top.
  • Let the parmigiana set for a few minutes before serving.

notes

  • If you use fresh mozzarella is important to let is drain it’s liquid for a few minutes. Otherwise it will release it when baking it and you’ll end with a soupy dish, instead the firm, well placed layers of vegetables and cheese.
  • If eggplants are in season there’s not need to let them draw their bitterness. Just slice and fry.
  • In some southern versions, the slices of eggplant are dredged in flour or bread crumbs before frying.
  • You can prepare this dish in advance and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it.
  • For a more richer version of this dish, add between layers some thin slices of mortadella.
Nutrition
Calories: 628kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1362mg | Potassium: 1496mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 1922IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 1077mg | Iron: 4mg
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