Eggplant Parmesan

By • August 31, 2009 102 Comments

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Author Notes: This is my Nonna's recipe and most of the ingredients came from her beloved garden. She used to fry the eggplant in egg and flour, but I only use flour and fry them on baking sheets in a hot oven. I always thought the egg batter soaked up too much of the sauce. My version makes it lighter and creamier and you use a lot less oil.Nancy Jo

Food52 Review: All of the cooking here is centered around getting the eggplant and tomatoes to the right texture so that when you fuse them, neither the sauce is watery nor the eggplant soggy. Nancy Jo accomplishes this by baking slabs of flour-dusted eggplant in the oven with just a trace of oil. They come out as stiff as cards. And the tomatoes are cooked down in the pan until pulpy. When the two meet in a baking dish, the eggplant soaks up some tomato juices but retains its own character so you get distinct layers. And Nancy Jo adds the mozzarella as a center layer, so you get the warm melted cheese right in the belly of the dish. Use fresh mozzarella, which is creamy and even a little sweet. - A&MThe Editors

Serves 6

Eggplant

  • 3 pounds eggplant (Choose the large variety. Make sure they are firm and smooth. Also, choose male eggplants. They have fewer seeds and have a rounder, smoother bottom)
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt
  • generous amounts of olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • 1/2 pound buffalo-milk mozzarella (if the balls are small, get two)

Sauce

  • 2 28 ounces cans of San Marzano (any brand is fine) canned whole peeled tomatoes (add another can if you want extra sauce left over)
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • enough olive oil to cover the pan
  1. Peel the eggplant and slice long ways into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Sprinkle each layer with salt and place into a colander, overlapping and salting as you go. Each slice should be salted. After you fill the colander, place a plate on top and weight it with a heavy pan or a tea kettle filled with water. Let the eggplant sweat for 30 minutes or more.
  3. While the eggplant sweats, make the sauce.
  4. Cover the bottom of a sauce pan with olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Add the sliced garlic and let it cook until is sizzles (do not brown the garlic). Add the canned whole tomatoes and their juice and salt. Stir and chop coarsely using a potato masher or two knives chopping crossways. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by almost half.
  5. Remove the eggplant fro the colander and thoroughly pat dry each slice.
  6. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the bottom of a baking sheet or two with olive oil.
  7. Dredge the eggplant slices in flour, shaking off any excess. Place on the baking sheets and drizzle the each slice with olive oil. Bake until brown on one side (about 15 minutes or so) and tun over and brown the other side. Repeat until you have cooked all the eggplant.
  8. Using a 7x11 baking dish (I like ceramic or earthenware, but you can use stainless steel as well), spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom and layer the eggplant until it completely covers the bottom (it's like a puzzle!).
  9. Sprinkle generously with the grated parmigiano-reggiano. Add another layer of sauce and then the eggplant. Continue to build the layers until you are about two layers from the top, then add a single layer of sliced mozzarella. Finish with a couple more layers of eggplant, sauce, and parmesan. Finish the top with parmesan.
  10. Bake on the upper third of a 400 degree oven. Check it after it's been in the oven for 20 minutes. You may find that it throws off more liquid as it bakes. If so, press down on the eggplant and draw off any excess liquid. Cook for another 15 minutes or so. Let stand for a good 15 or 20 minutes before serving.

More Great Recipes: Eggplant|Tomatoes|Olive Oil|Vegetables|Entrees

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Comments (102) Questions (7)

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25 days ago JJ Avinger-Jacques

Made this a couple of days ago....delicious! I now understand the why of all the great reviews. I DID however, make some changes that I'd like to share.
1) Forget salting the eggplant, just slice, lightly dust with flour, and put on COCONUT OIL sprayed, parchment-lined sheet pans (I needed two). I sprinkled some of the shredded parm on one side, baked for 15 min, sprayed lightly with the coconut oil on the second side, sprinkled parm on the second side and baked again for 15 min. Switched the pans from top rack to middle rack, and front side to back side each time. Did the switcheroo twice because I thought they needed to be MORE dehydrated.
2) It took about 1 HOUR to almost completely dry out the eggplant slices, FYI.
3) I DID use three 28oz. cans tomatoes because I wanted to have extra sauce to make chicken cacciatore. Added oregano and basil and some chopped flat-leaf parsley to the sauce.
4) The mozzarella in the middle of the dish was really toothsome and wonderful, but I wish I had purchased some extra, or saved some from the original slices to ALSO put on top of the dish. I think it would have LOOKED so much more appetizing with some bubbling mozzarella on the top of the casserole.
5) Definitely needed 2 CUPS of shredded parm for the whole recipe, perhaps even more. I just know that after dusting the eggplant slices with parm, then layering parm between the layers, and then needing more on top.....the amount called for was DEFINITELY NOT ENOUGH...;>)
OK...those are my two cents....ciao, baby!

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25 days ago marymary

LOVE your two cents! I will follow suit next round. Thanks for sharing.

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29 days ago paczryk

Somehow, most of the pictures are no longer working??

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about 1 month ago Chris Moore

If you can't eat gluten, just substitute the regular flour out for a different kind. I used brown rice flour (and almond flour) instead of wheat flour to bread the eggplant. The brown rice flour works best. My eggplant came out crispy and the dish is a success!

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about 1 month ago Linsey A. Burritt

I made this last night. And then this morning, I topped a slice with a fried egg. This is now my most favorite eggplant recipe! The only thing I did different was add a splash of red wine to the sauce. Thank you for sharing!

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about 1 month ago Linsey A. Burritt

Also, for anyone wondering how long this might take, it took me 4 hours including a bike ride to the grocery store. I let the eggplant sweat for an hour, which means the sauce cooked for about 1 1/2. Worth it!

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6 months ago Jane Hill

I made it today and it was a big hit. I salted one side and placed on paper towel. Let it sweat for 1 hour and pressed heavily with double paper towel. It was perfect. Will make it again and again

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8 months ago jane

Tried this last night. Really tasty recipe. Great for leftovers too. The sauce was delicious even on it's own. I was surprised at the amount of flavour with so few and such simple ingredients. Due to others comments about saltiness I very lightly salted the eggplant and made sure to wipe them off thoroughly with paper towel after they sat. I didn't add any salt to the sauce and didn't find the dish too salty. I served it with salad and bread. Didn't even miss the meat and I'm a big meat eater. Due to all the different parts of the recipe, sweating eggplant, baking eggplant, and baking the whole dish it took a bit more time then I anticipated.

I kind of missed the bread crumb part though. Maybe I'll try again with breaded eggplant though who knows I might like this original recipe better anyways. Would definitely make this again.

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5 months ago jane

I made this again but breaded the eggplant. I much prefer the original recipe here. I found the breaded eggplant soaked up too much sauce and just got soggy. Stick to the original recipe. It's delicious and easy.

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10 months ago Tbird

OH MY. I'm the "cook" in our family and had to go away for a few days for a business trip. I made this Sunday night to last for a few days while I'm gone. The unfortunate thing about this is I don't think there will be any leftovers for me, as my girls (and a friend) have devoured it.

It was a terrific recipe to make on a Sunday afternoon, as it does take some time to prep, but the results are amazing. My "tweaks": added some dried oregano into the sauce and also layered some fresh spinach into the layers for some added nutrients (and COLOR!)

Thanks for the recipe. Will definitely be making it again!

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11 months ago babswool

It is untraditional but I like adding sauted onions to my eggplant. Adds a different texture and flavor to the final dish

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11 months ago Adelucchi

This is the BEST AND EASIEST sauce. Thanks for the recipe.

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11 months ago helen

I make eggplant parmesan to this recipe all the time, perhaps once a fortnight. My housemates adore it.

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12 months ago Kip Kiener

I have found an easier way to cook the eggplant. I place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray it with olive oil or a cooking spray, place the eggplant on the sheet and a light layer of spray on them. Both sides get done evenly and no flipping. I also encrust them with some planko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. If you get lazy you can just eat them like that and blow off the sauce.

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12 months ago karen

do I need to rinse the eggplant after salting it ?

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12 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

Read Step 5#. I didn't rinse when I made the dish.

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11 months ago karen

So I finally made this dish and I was worried it would be too salty just patting it off. I'm glad I listened to my first instinct and rinsed it off then patted it dry before dredging in flour. It was plenty salty enough using this method. It turned out well.

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12 months ago Somia

Oh my! Made this for dinner last night using fresh eggplant and tomatoes from the local farm stand. My teen daughter's last words before bedtime to me were "epic dinner - I am dreaming of it already - I want to have dinner all over again even though I am not hungry"! Absolutely delicious and can be made from scratch on a weeknight. Can not recommend it enough!

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12 months ago Jolie

Delicious. Made this and subbed out flour for buckwheat flour to make it gluten free. Everyone loved it. Added a little oregano and basil to the sauce in lieu of salt. What a gorgeous and simple recipe! Thank you.

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about 1 year ago Tundrah

Wow. This is excellent. Eyeballed myself amounts for a single serving. Made the sauce half from heirlooms and half canned. Skipped seasoning sauce w salt due to others comments. Printing this one out for the recipe book--it's a keeper!

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about 1 year ago AlainaMK

This recipe is a staple at my house, and one of my (very picky) husband's all-time favorites. He grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Jersey and says this dish rivals that of his best friend's grandmother...I'll take it! Although a bit time-consuming, sweating the eggplant makes all the difference. This recipe is worth every minute, and leftovers (if you have any) are excellent as a sandwich on a French roll.

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over 1 year ago olive

this was a total hit! never thought of baking the eggplant slices with flour in the oven….totally worked- delicious! Thank you to Nonna!

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over 1 year ago lpcooks

I had the same problem as others with this being too salty. I think its important to salt the eggplant because it draws out the water so I solved the problem by really under salting the tomato sauce and it came out delicious.

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over 1 year ago marymary

Tried this today and it's so easy! I just took my first bite and it's awesome, although salty for my taste. I'm cleaning out my fridge today and had to substitute prosciutto panino for the buffalo mozzarella. Very good sub! I will definitely make this again (and again), but won't salt the eggplant. I'll also be serving the crispy, oven-browned eggplant dusted with parmesan as an appetizer / side dish with other dinners. Thanks for sharing!

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over 1 year ago kimberly.godwin

Cooking the eggplant like that was sooooo good, I may just eat more eggplant and cook it that way as dish all by itself. It gets crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. It really was delicious.