An Italian eggplant (Melanzane alla Parmigiana) is breading-free, if we go by the standards of Italy. Yes, and no, Italians don’t pour any cream into their fettuccine Alfredo as well! Shocker, right?
Rather than frying it, try roasting the eggplant. Because pans full of simmering oil and eggplant are (definitely) not a good match. Not to mention fried eggplant tastes more like oil than eggplant when dipped into pans full of simmering oil.
After all, Eggplant notoriously absorbs oil like a sponge, which is why you’ll want to brush oil onto the eggplant rather than drizzling it on. However, just be sure to use fresh eggplant, because there’s no saving a mushy, bruised eggplant.
And skip the breading, too, which makes the Italian eggplant gluten free. Without the breading as distraction, the eggplant flavour really comes out. Although, you can try some cheese on it. And maybe, the dish might look super cheesy (okay, it is cheesy) but most of the cheese is on top of the dish so it can develop that mouth-watering golden crust. Well, this Italian Eggplant recipe can either be made entirely from scratch and not as well. You choice, but don’t fret much if you choose former because it’s simple to prepare. Just roast the eggplant slices instead of frying them and then, assemble the dish and bake it. Sounds, easy?
Italian Eggplant Recipe
Olive oil: ¼ cup
Large eggs: 6
Garlic powder: 2 teaspoons
Dried parsley: 2 teaspoons
Large eggplant, trimmed and sliced: 1
Marinara Sauce: 24.Oz
Parmesan cheese, grated: ½ cup
Salt: 1 teaspoon Pepper: ½ teaspoon
- Preheat oven to 200°F and line a baking sheet.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley in a medium bowl.
- Now dredge the eggplant slices into egg mixture, in batches. Shake off excess, if any and place slices in a single layer in skillet.
- Cook until the eggplant turns browned or for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer the cooked slices to baking sheet and place them in oven to keep them warm.
- Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices. In case, burned bits starts to accumulate, wipe out the skillet with a paper towel in batches and add remaining olive oil.
- When done, heat marinara sauce in a small pan over low heat. Spoon sauce onto each of 4 plates, topping each with an eggplant slice.
- Spoon more sauce over, sprinkle with Parmesan and add another eggplant slice. Repeat until no eggplant remains.
Top each stack sauce, sprinkle with more Parmesan and serve.
Italian Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
Eggplants: 3 pounds
Extra-virgin Olive oil: ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons, divided
Yellow onion, medium and finely chopped: 1
Garlic, pressed and minced: 2 cloves
Tomato paste: ¼ cup
Crushed tomatoes: 28 ounces
Fresh basil, roughly chopped: ¼ cup
Balsamic Vinegar: 1 teaspoon
Mozzarella cheese, freshly grated and part-skim: 1 ½ cup
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated: 1 cup Pinch of Salt, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes
- Roast the eggplant: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two large rimmed, baking sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up.
- Slice the eggplants vertically, in long even slabs and then, brush both sides of the eggplant slabs lightly with olive oil. Arrange them in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
- Sprinkle the top sides of the slices with a few dashes of salt and pepper and roast then until golden and tender, say for about 22 to 27 minutes. Turning in between to avoid burning.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very tender and translucent, say for about 4 to 7 minutes.
- Now add the garlic, tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a simmer until the sauce has thickened nicely, about 15 minutes, in low flame.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the chopped basil, vinegar, salt and red pepper flakes. Taste, and add more salt if necessary.
- Now spread some sauce in the bottom of baking tray. Arrange about one-third of the eggplant slices over the sauce, overlapping slightly and spoon some more sauce over the eggplant. Then, sprinkle the mozzarella cheese.
- Arrange about half of the remaining eggplant slices evenly on top. Spread another ¾ cup sauce and sprinkle with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese on top.
- Layer the remaining eggplant slices, topping with ¾ cup sauce and the remaining mozzarella cheese. Then, once again, evenly sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
- Bake at 425 degrees F, uncovered, until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden or for about 20 to 25 minutes.
- Let it cool for at least 15 minutes then chop and sprinkle additional basil on top. Slice and serve.
Easy Eggplant Rollatini Recipe
Eggplant, large: 2
Extra-virgin oil: 2 ½ cups
Marinara sauce, store bought: 2 cups
Pinch of salt
Eggs, beaten: 2
Part-skim Ricotta cheese: 1 cup
Part-skim Mozzarella cheese, shredded: ½ cup
Parmesan cheese, grated: 3 tablespoons
Basil pesto: 2 tablespoons Parsley leaves, chopped: 1 cup
- Slice eggplants vertically, in long even slabs and sprinkle them with salt and set aside on paper towel for 20 minutes. To sweat out any bitterness. Pat dry and rinse with water, then dry again
- Heat oven to 375 degrees F and brush a large baking sheet with extra virgin olive oil.
- Arrange the eggplant slices in one layer and brush the tops with more extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 8 minutes or so until soft enough to fold. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. In a bowl, add eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, grated Parmesan, basil pesto, fresh parsley and mix until well-combined.
- Spread about ¾ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish and spoon about 2 tbsp. of the filling onto one end of each eggplant slice, and spread.
- Top eggplant Rollatini with the remaining of the marinara sauce, basil pesto, and a bit of mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes or until the eggplant Rollatini is fully cooked and tender.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.
Selection Tips for Eggplant
Before you head to the grocery store, do glance over below. Because here are some tips you can use while shopping for the recipe:
- Be sure to choose eggplants that are smooth, shiny and one that feel heavy for their size. And not the ones with dents or mushy parts.
- If possible, choose eggplants that are on the smaller side because large eggplants tend to contain more seeds. Which can produce a bothersome texture, while preparing them.
- Lastly, be sure to turn that eggplant into Italian eggplant promptly, since overripe eggplants tastes a tad bit bitterer.
Simple side dishes, such as roasted vegetables, sautéed sides or green salads goes well with eggplant. So, don’t forget to buy their ingredients as well.