Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian dish made with slices of eggplant breaded and deep fried or baked, smothered with marinara sauce (a tomato-based Italian sauce) and lots of mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese, then baked till the cheese melts to a ooey-gooey delight; a piece of Italian cuisine on a plate!!
Traditional eggplant parmesan is deep or shallow fried breaded eggplant slices, topped with marinara sauce and melting cheese. If you are very health and calorie conscious, you can bake the eggplant slices in a hot oven. I have tried this, and to be frank, nothing like a crispy fried piece of spicy breaded eggplant for me, especially my husband who prefers it that way! You can choose to bake. But trust me, when you want to do justice to this Italian classic dish, go my way and shallow fry it in a little oil.
There are some recipes you hold dear to your heart. These are the ones you would love to make again and again, but sometimes, the lengthy procedure deters you to make it too often!! Eggplant parmesan is one among them.
That has not stopped me from indulging in a steaming hot plate of eggplant parmesan once in a while, especially when I come across a gorgeous piece of eggplant in the grocery aisle, waiting to be found. Whenever, my husband comes across one, we are sure to have eggplant Parmesan for dinner soon.
The first step involves making the homemade marinara sauce; only homemade for us. If you find yourself getting a bit lazy, feel free to spice up store bought marinara sauce with some jalapenos and more vegetables.
The second step is slicing the eggplant into thick slices and “sweating” them. This process involves sprinkling the slices with salt to draw out the excess moisture which is then wiped off with a paper towel. If you skip this step, you may end up with soggy eggplant bites!!
Third step is breading the slices with a mixture of breadcrumbs after an egg wash. I like to avoid eggs in my cooking, so milk it is. For a spicy touch, chilli flakes and Italian herbs have been added to breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes (for extra crunch) mixture. Make an assembly line of flour, milk and breadcrumb mixture, dip twice in all of them, starting with flour, then milk and finally breadcrumbs (repeat the process). Spicy coated eggplants are ready to be fried or baked.
Shallow fry them till golden brown, turning often, to a crispy delicious bite of eggplant crunch! Make sure you soak the excess oil on paper towels!! (These crispy, crunchy Italian spiced eggplant bites are great as snack by itself with homemade marinara sauce as a dipping sauce!)
Smother the prepared eggplant bites in homemade marinara sauce, shower with as much mozzarella cheese as you love and bake in a convection oven (you can use the grill or broil mode) or microwave till the cheese melts.
Top with more cheese; Parmesan cheese, and some chilli flakes. Scrumptious Eggplant Parmesan is ready to dive into.
Serve it with some garlic bread/toasted plain bread and a fresh salad for a complete meal!!
- 1 medium eggplant/Baingan/Aubergine/Brinjal
- All-purpose flour/maida
- Milk for dipping the eggplant slices
- 2 cups of dried bread crumbs or crushed cornflakes (or mixture of both)
- 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes
- ½ teaspoon Dried Italian seasoning
- Salt to taste
- Oil for deep frying
- 4 large tomatoes
- 3 to 4 green chillies/jalapenos
- 2 cups of readymade tomato puree
- ½ cup red onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
- ¼ cup of finely chopped bell pepper/capsicum
- ½ cup of finely chopped mushrooms
- ½ teaspoon crushed red chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 cups grated mozzarella
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Few basil leaves
- Red chilli flakes
- Wash and slice the eggplant into slices (about ¼ inch to ½ inch slices).
- Lay them on a baking sheet or pan.
- Sprinkle both the sides with salt evenly. Leave in pan to release the moisture, for about 30 minutes.
- Crush cornflakes in a small blender.
- In a 3 separate bowls, place some flour, milk and breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes (I had some breadcrumbs leftover from the pinwheel sandwiches I had make earlier so I mixed them with crushed cornflakes).
- Stir about 1 teaspoon of crushed chilli flakes and ½ teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning into the cornflakes or breadcrumbs.
- Pat dry the eggplant slices with a tissue paper or paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Heat some oil for deep frying.
- Working one at a time, dip the slices first in flour, then milk and then coat evenly with the cornflakes-breadcrumbs mixture; make sure both the sides of the slices are well coated.
- Once again, dip in milk and breadcrumb mixture to coat evenly. If you want a thicker crust for the eggplant bites, dip more time in milk and breadcrumb mixture.
- Place in a separate plate.
- Once the oil is hot, deep fry the coated and breaded eggplant slices in batches of 3 till golden brown, flipping over in between.
- Place in a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.
- Wash tomatoes, chop them roughly and blend along with green chillies to a fine paste. Keep aside.
- Finely chop onions, bell pepper and mushrooms.
- Heat olive oil in a deep saucepan.
- Once the oil is hot, add chopped onions. Sauté on medium high heat till the onions are soft and slightly browned.
- Add chopped garlic and fry again for a few seconds.
- Stir in chopped mushrooms and bell pepper and sauté again for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the pureed tomatoes and green chillies along with readymade tomato puree.
- Add the Italian seasoning, chilly flakes, black pepper, salt to taste and sugar and mix well.
- Bring to a boil on high and once it starts to boil, lower the heat and simmer on medium low for about 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce reduces and becomes slightly thick.
- Once you get the consistency you want, remove from heat.
- Place a few slices of eggplant bites on a microwave safe plate.
- Spoon homemade marinara sauce over the eggplant bites; pour as much or as little as you want.
- Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese on top.
- Bake in a microwave for 2 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately with additional topping of Parmesan cheese and chilli flakes.
- You can also bake these in a convection oven.
- Layer sauce, eggplant bites and mozzarella cheese in a baking pan; repeat with another layer of sauce, eggplant and cheese on top. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the cheese melts and the sauce is bubbling.
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