Authentic Eggplant Parmigiana

This Eggplant Parmigiana is full of flavor, fresh tasting, and not anything like the greasy, breaded, mushy eggplant you'd normally expect.

This recipe is light and fresh enough to serve as a first course, but also flavorful and satisfying enough to serve as a main course.

Eggplant Parmigiana


Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana

For the eggplant:

  • 3 Lb. Eggplant (About 4 small or 3 large)
  • Pam Olive Oil Spray

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbs Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 Large Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Cut in Half
  • 2 28-oz Cans Diced Tomatoes, Drained (Or if you want to make it 100% fresh, 3 1/2 lb. plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped.)
  • 12-15 Large Fresh Basil Leaves, Torn in Half

For assembling:

  • 8 Oz. Fresh Mozzarella, Torn Into 1/2-Inch Pieces
  • 1 Cup Packed Freshly Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


  1. Peel the eggplant and cut each crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  2. Cover the bottom and sides of a large colander with a few eggplant slices and sprinkle generously with salt.
  3. Top with more layers of eggplant and salt until you run out of slices.
  4. Let the colander sit in the sink or over a large bowl for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours. The salt will draw out water and reduce the eggplant's ability to absorb oil.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce by heating 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.
  6. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and barely golden, approximately 2 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes, and raise the heat to medium high. Cook stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to break down in a sauce, about 20 to 25 minutes. (If the sauce begins to dry up before the tomatoes break down, add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time.)
  8. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, chunky sauce, 5 to 10 minutes more. (Too much liquid in the sauce will make the finished dish watery.)
  9. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic, and stir in the basil leaves. (Tip: Spread the garlic on bread for a flavorful treat, or if you love garlic as much as I do, just go ahead and eat them.)
  10. Rinse each of the eggplant pieces to remove the excess salt, and then dry each piece by lining a large plate with a paper towel and setting a few slices on it. Top with another paper towel and layer on a few more slices. Repeat until all eggplant slices are gone, and cover the top with one more paper towel.
  11. Spray a griddle or large saute pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high. Working in single layer batches, cook the eggplant pieces until cooked and starting to lightly brown on each side, about 2 minutes on one side, and 1 minute on the other.
  12. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat until all the slices are cooked (or if you're quick with your hands, set up the cooking dish and start assembling in between cooking the individual pieces.
  13. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 450 degrees F.
  14. Lightly grease a 10 X 8 baking pan with cooking spray. Layer about one-third of the eggplant slices on the bottom, overlapping them slightly.
  15. Using the back of a wooden spoon, spread about one-third of the tomato sauce in a very thin layer over the eggplant.
  16. Evenly layer one half of the mozzarella and 1/3 cup of the Parmigiano over the tomato sauce.
  17. Make another layer with one-third of the eggplant, one-third of the tomato sauce, the remaining mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmigiano.
  18. Make one last layer with the remaining eggplant, tomato sauce, and Parmigiano.
  19. Bake until the cheese has melted evenly and the top is bubbly, with browned edges, 20 to 25 minutes.
  20. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This recipe was adapted from one that appeared in Fine Cooking, Aug/Sept 2009.