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Mouthwatering Eggplant Parmesan – Italian Classic

time: 45 minutes. Cook
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Introduction

Eggplant Parmesan, known as “Melanzane alla Parmigiana” in Italian, is a beloved classic of Italian cuisine. This dish has deep roots in Southern Italy, particularly in the regions of Campania and Sicily. Eggplant, a vegetable native to the Mediterranean, takes center stage in this hearty and flavorful recipe. Eggplant Parmesan is a vegetarian delight, showcasing layers of tender eggplant slices, rich tomato sauce, and layers of gooey, melted cheese. It’s a symphony of flavors and textures that has found its way onto menus all around the world. In this article, we’ll dive into the history of Eggplant Parmesan and guide you through the steps to create a mouthwatering rendition of this Italian favorite.

Historical Context

The origins of Eggplant Parmesan are rooted in the rich culinary history of Italy. While the exact date of its invention remains unclear, it is widely believed to have been created in the Campania region of Italy, where the fertile soil and warm climate make it an ideal environment for cultivating eggplants. The dish is often associated with the city of Naples, known for its vibrant and flavorful cuisine.

Eggplant Parmesan was initially introduced as a meatless dish, making it popular among the predominantly Catholic population of Southern Italy during Lent when meat was traditionally avoided. It was initially prepared by layering slices of eggplant with simple tomato sauce and cheese, and then baking it to perfection. Over the years, the recipe has evolved, and variations have emerged, but the core components have remained consistent.

Preparation

  1. Preparing the Eggplant
  1. Start by slicing the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place them on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and generously sprinkle each slice with salt. This helps draw out excess moisture and bitterness from the eggplant. Let them sit for about 30 minutes, then pat them dry with more paper towels.
  1. Making the Tomato Sauce
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and chopped basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer the sauce over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. Stir occasionally.
  1. Breading and Frying the Eggplant
  1. Set up a breading station with three shallow bowls: one with flour, one with beaten eggs, and one with a mixture of breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
  2. Dip each eggplant slice into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the beaten eggs, and finally into the breadcrumb mixture, ensuring they are coated evenly.
  3. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, fry the breaded eggplant slices in batches until they are golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place them on paper towels to drain any excess oil.
  1. Assembling Eggplant Parmesan
  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. In a 9×13-inch baking dish, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce to prevent sticking. Place a layer of fried eggplant slices on top, followed by a layer of mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat this process until all the ingredients are used, finishing with a layer of mozzarella cheese on top.
  1. Baking and Serving
  1. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
  2. Let the Eggplant Parmesan cool for a few minutes before garnishing with fresh basil leaves. Slice and serve this mouthwatering Italian classic alongside a fresh salad and some crusty bread for a satisfying meal.

Eggplant Parmesan is a dish that celebrates the simplicity of Italian cuisine while delivering layers of flavor and a comforting, hearty meal. It’s a true classic that has stood the test of time, gracing dinner tables both in Italy and around the world. So, fire up your oven and bring the flavors of Italy to your kitchen with this delicious Eggplant Parmesan recipe. Buon appetito!

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staffcontributor
prep time
About 30 minutes.
cooking time
time: 45 minutes.
servings
4
total time
me: About 1 hour 15 minutes.

Equipment

  • Chef's knife

  • Cutting board

  • Paper towels

  • Mixing bowls

  • Whisk

  • Baking sheets

  • Slotted spatula

  • 9x13-inch baking dish

  • Aluminum foil

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) of crushed tomatoes

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds each

  • Salt, for sweating the eggplant

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3 large eggs, beaten

  • 2 cups breadcrumbs (preferably Italian-style)

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced

  • Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions

1
Prepare the eggplant.
2
Make the tomato sauce.
3
Bread and fry the eggplant.
4
Assemble and bake.
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