Summer

Eggplant Parmesan

by:
August 31, 2009
28 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 1 hour
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 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
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.
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165 Reviews

Penny M. July 5, 2021
Love, love, love this recipe! I added some red pepper and red wine to the sauce. I’ve made this at least half a dozen times and everyone Loves it!
 
SPark0101 January 2, 2021
Really delicious and excellent in its simplicity. I didn't salt either, and I added some ricotta to the layers because I had some in hand.
 
Ashley July 16, 2020
This is my go-to eggplant parm recipe and a pair of foodie friends say it's one of my best dishes. I know it so well by now, I don't even need the recipe. My only change is adding crumbled Italian sausage between the layers. I dusted the top with chopped basil afterward and it was so beautiful. A great way to use up summer eggplant, and if you have too much, I've learned that you can bake the eggplant, freeze it, and use it in the winter for a decadent and comforting taste of summer.
 
Anne M. July 13, 2020
Absolutely delicious. Used 4 eggplants fresh from the garden. I did not salt the eggplants prior to using - totally unnecessary anymore. I also seasoned them (salt/pepper/Peney's justice) before dipping in flour. Watch the time spent in oven - mine cook a lot faster. I also jazzed up the marinara sauce a bit w/ fire roasted tomatoes and added a handful of fresh basil, 2T of basaltic vinegar and 2t of Italian seasoning. Will definitely be making again. Limiting the mozzarella to the belly of the dish is brilliant.
 
Kimberly F. October 30, 2019
AMAZING!!!! I followed this recipe exactly and it was delicious! My guests were avid foodies and farmers and everyone asked for the recipe after. We all appreciate that eggplant can be tricky to get the texture just right! Thank you!
 
Adam June 24, 2019
I did not peel or salt the eggplants, but otherwise followed the recipe to the letter. This is one of the best eggplant parmigiana recipes ever! I had this dish in Puglia and they DO NOT bread the eggplant, so this is very authentic. Make this.
 
Megan June 23, 2019
What size baking dish did people use? Read the comments, saw the picture doesn’t correspond, but what was the verdict here? Would love to know!
 
Emily K. December 13, 2019
Personally I used 8X11 with extra sauce (I freaking love sauce) and it was great!!!
 
Mary May 17, 2019
Thank you for the recipe, sounds good and I can't wait to try it. I was intrigued by the "male / female eggplant" comment. I did a little googling and found that there is no such thing as "sexed" eggplants. Better to check for how ripe the eggplant is to determine seediness. https://depts.washington.edu/hortlib/resources/wp-resource_search.php?term=2697
 
Catwoman September 6, 2019
We were curious also and googled it and in fact found that they do. There images as well! They have different bottoms, and males are sweeter with less seeds😃
 
Esteban April 2, 2019
Thank you very much for this recipe. All the directions were clear enough to process the Aubergine wich I never prepared before.
Delicious dish
 
paul.taxicullen March 23, 2019
Stuck to the recipe. I didn't get it right the first time because I didn't get the aubergine dry enough and my tomato sauce was too runny.... not the second time: the second time it was absolutely fantastic. Aubergine nice and cooked out. Sauce reduced. Amazing dish with relatively few ingredients. Thank you.
 
Leesa R. January 30, 2019
Made a half batch without peeling or pre-salting. Easy, cheesy eggplant goodness.
 
Lewinski T. January 20, 2019
Fresh eggplant 🍆 is a beautiful thing, does not need peeling - lots of nutrients in the skin and does not need to sit in a salt bath if fresh.
Lovely recipe apart from this
 
erinrae October 14, 2018
Agree that this is great! It's time consuming but not overly messy or complicated, and it's great avoiding breading and frying. Next time I'll change the sauce, I think a crushed tomato sauce would work a lot better than whole tomato (even broken up). I might even try Marcella Hazan's tomato with onion sauce... I may also try ricotta per other commenters. Thank you for sharing!
 
bobbe August 18, 2018
Also, this a fun recipe to tinker with. I boosted the flavor of the tomato sauce, with a healthy pinch of red peppers, a splash of leftover black coffee, and a bit of sugar . . . old habits die hard. ha.
 
bobbe August 18, 2018
After I removed the thin eggplant slices and thoroughly patted each one dry, I went ahead and layered each slice between another layer of paper towel. After allowing time for additional sweating including placing a plate and pot on top of my mountain of eggplant, I felt satisfied that most of the saltiness that some are referring too was taken care of. Also the sauce does not call for extra salt. I tasted one of the slices of eggplant that was very brown and crispy and it was just salty enough to handle the slightly under salted sauce. Right now it is cooling and I'm very excited to see the happiness around the table tonight. Hope this was helpful.
 
babswool August 7, 2018
I love eggplant parm but hate the frying part - so much grease and mess. Cooking the eggplant in the oven was such a revelation. Loved!
 
Dave May 17, 2018
Recipe calls for 7x11 baking dish but photo is what looks like a shallow paella pan
. That is a huge difference in thickness.
 
Beverly March 20, 2018
I made the eggplant parm and was pleased with the results. Next time I will cut the slices a little thicker as some of mine were a bit thin. I watched them closely in the oven so they wouldn’t burn. Also, I rinsed the salt off and they were still salty but no too salty. This process much easier than the old breading and frying.

 
Cheryl November 21, 2017
Delicious, but definitely too salty. Will rinse eggplant next time.
 
jpriddy October 28, 2017
And about the male or female fruit silliness: http://depts.washington.edu/hortlib/resources/resource_search.php?term=2697