Fry

Parmigiana Bianca ("White" Eggplant Parmigiana)

by:
August  7, 2014
4.3 Stars
Author Notes

Eggplant Parmigiana is perhaps one of Italy's best-known exports–and rightfully so. It's a satisfying, hearty vegetable dish made of deep-fried or grilled slices of eggplant layered with mozzarella, a simple tomato sauce, basil, and of course the recipe's namesake: Parmesan cheese.

There is much debate over whether Parmigiana originates in Sicily or Campagna, although some believe its name could also indicate that the dish comes from the northern province of Parma, where Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano-Reggiano) is made. It's a much-loved dish that several southern Italian regions would be happy to claim as their own–even if Pecorino cheese is more typical of these regions than Parmesan. In any case, eggplants grow beautifully in southern Italy and thus appear in a variety of traditional dishes, like this baked pasta with eggplant.

Parmigiana Bianca, or "White" Eggplant Parmesan, hails from Puglia, Italy's heel. The main difference between this recipe and its more famous counterpart is the lack of tomato sauce–but there are as many variations on Parmigiana Bianca as there are households in Italy. Some cooks substitute the missing tomato sauce with bechamel, and some simply leave it out. In this version, a mixture of eggs and cheese enriches and holds the Parmigiana together, much like the southern French tian. While fresh mozzarella cheese is the traditional and favorite cheese to use alongside Parmesan, you could replace it with provola or caciocavallo. In every adaptation, the result is a gentler, sweeter Parmigiana.

In all of its variations, Eggplant Parmigiana is usually served as an antipasto–cut into small pieces and presented alongside a delicious platter of salumi, olives, marinated vegetables, fresh cheeses, and lovely deep-fried things–or, more traditionally, as a contorno, a side dish that might arrive between the first (pasta) and second (main) course. Incidentally, it also makes for great, portable picnic fare. —Emiko

  • Serves 4 to 6 as part of an antipasto
Ingredients
  • 2 large eggplants
  • Salt
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 4 tablespoons (60 grams) dried breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125 milliliters) milk
  • 3 ounces (80 grams) Parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) fresh mozzarella (about 1 large ball), provola, or caciocavallo cheese
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cut the eggplant into 1-centimeter slices and sprinkle each with salt on one side. Let sit for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Rinse and pat the slices dry, then fry them in plenty of olive oil (or grill with a little olive oil) until golden brown and tender. Place the slices on paper towels to drain any excess oil and set aside until needed.
  2. Prepare a casserole dish by greasing it with olive oil and dusting with a tablespoon of the breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk together with a pinch of salt and half of the Parmesan cheese.
  4. Layer the eggplant in a casserole dish with the mozzarella and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Pour the egg mixture over the eggplant and mozzarella. Finish with the rest of the Parmesan and a final sprinkling of breadcrumbs. Bake in the oven at 350º F (180º C) until the eggs are set and the top is golden and crisp, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve as part of an antipasto.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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24 Reviews

theprask June 30, 2018
Just made this today for lunch. I seasoned plain breadcrumbs with my own "Italian" blend of herbs and spices, roughly equal amounts of sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sweet basil, black pepper and fennel seeds. I used whipping cream instead of milk. It came out pretty good. My wife said it had a nice flavor. She also said, "My God, that's rich!" At any rate, I was quite pleased with the results.
 
Monique M. October 23, 2017
Has anyone ever heard of a version of this recipe which includes prescuito (sp?)?
 
Author Comment
Emiko October 24, 2017
Yes, there are many versions! Prosciutto is often added, as is egg, either hard boiled and sliced or beaten and poured over the top! I've written a more in depth article on Parmigiana here: https://food52.com/blog/13926-what-does-classic-eggplant-parmigiana-really-mean
 
Rhoda P. October 28, 2015
This is even better than regular lasagne. I broiled the eggplant. So easy and fast.. I love that there's no tomato sauce. Just a homey dish that's really delicious.
 
weekend A. November 25, 2014
I made this over the weekend and it was really tasty, even though I screwed up and forgot the milk! Great recipe, will make again
 
MS September 18, 2014
Hi Emiko,
To confirm, NO tomatoes here? What gives the top crust that reddish hue in your picture?
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 18, 2014
No tomatoes in this version! That golden brown crust is the melted cheese! :)
 
Marsha G. September 17, 2014
This is very good. I broiled my eggplant slices instead of frying or grilling them, following directions for "Easy Moussaka" in "More-with-Less Cook Book" by Doris Janzen Longacre. I used more breadcrumbs, too. The result was a wonderfully cheesy, eggy dish that's good for any meal. I had a chunk today for breakfast with toast. When I make it again, I'm going to be sure to use an 8-inch, not a 9-inch pan, and it was a bit bland, so I will add black pepper and more salt.
 
Author Comment
Emiko September 17, 2014
Great idea and thanks for the feedback!
 
Sonya S. September 13, 2014
has anyone tried to freeze this? we have a big holiday coming up at our house and need more dishes we can make ahead.
 
Marsha G. September 17, 2014
i haven't, but I wouldn't advise it. It's full of dairy, which usually doesn't freeze well.
 
I_Fortuna September 18, 2014
In my experience, cheese freezes just fine after it is cooked. Once cheese is cooked the chemical composition changes and it will be fine. Just make sure it is freezer wrapped well and all air removed from the packaging. I use Glad freezer containers. Have you ever bought lasagna in the freezer section of the market? It cooks up fine and is even better when prepared at home.
I also freeze gallons of milk and eggs in the shell that are uncooked freeze well and defrost easily. I can't tell you the number of times that my eggs use to freeze in my old fridge. The shells crack a bit during the freezing but once removed into a bowl defrost quickly. Just keep them in their original container in freezer until time to prepare them.
 
bklyncook August 21, 2014
It was delicious ! In Sicily we do a thin layer of prosciutto cotto, or cooked ham, between the layers... I like this especially because I don't always want to fry eggplant AND cook a tomato sauce !
 
Jeannine D. August 13, 2014
Emiko maybe my dish was too deep, but it did not cook at 350 even after 30 minutes. Turned the oven up to 400. By the way, my oven is new so I am confident in the temperature. Hope it's done soon, I'm starving!
 
I_Fortuna August 13, 2014
I would just like to mention that I have a new oven also and had problems "learning" how to use it after using my old one. I hated it.
Here is what I learned:
1-Be sure this recipe is on the second to lowest rack. I use the middle rack for baking.
2-Let your oven preheat for 30 minutes even though the beeper will tell you it is ready.
3-Use an oven thermometer to calibrate the temperature of your oven. This will insure that it is heating to the temperature you set it at.
I sometimes set my temp. about 30 degrees higher than the recipe calls for.
Know that glass pans cook hotter than metal ones.
Just because an oven is new, does not mean the manufacturer set it correctly or that it will preform like your old one. Best of luck : )

 
I_Fortuna August 13, 2014
I always hate to click on eggplant recipes because I know that the eggplant will not be prepared properly. Wow, was I wrong. I love to see recipes where the chef really knows eggplant. I make my eggplant this way all the time and it is volumes better this way. I do cut my eggplant a little thinner but this is it exactly. Thank you!
 
Jeannine D. August 13, 2014
Just emailed Emiko to see if you can assemble ahead, then add milk, egg, Parmesan when going into the oven
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 13, 2014
Yes this would work just fine, assembling ahead as you've described. Let us know how it goes!
 
Kristina August 13, 2014
How many layers of eggplant are there meant to be? Is it just cheese between the layers? I wasn't 100% clear on that bit.
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 13, 2014
In step 4 it says layer the eggplants with the cheese and sprinkling of breadcrumbs -- you want both in there between each layer. As for number of layers, it really just depends on how big your eggplants, their slices and your baking dish are! It should be at least 3 layers thick but you can go more if you like!
 
Kristina August 13, 2014
Thank you very much Emiko! Maybe it seemed too easy so my brain tried to complicate it, hehe. All your recipes look delicious and I look forward to trying this :)
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 13, 2014
No problem! It's good to clarify so thanks for asking!
 
Marsha G. August 12, 2014
Should the casserole dish be an 8-inch one?
 
Author Comment
Emiko August 13, 2014
That would work!