This eggplant parmesan recipe is a cheesy, warm, and comforting meal that will make you actually enjoy eating vegetables.Jump to Recipe
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With summer veggies on the brain and a desire to eat a bit healthier these past few weeks, we decided to try our own take on my mom’s Eggplant Parmesan recipe. This delicious alternative to chicken parmesan is tender, saucy, cheesy, and comforting all at once. And it tastes amazing with fresh eggplant, when done right.
We’re not big on vegetables around here, so we try to find creative ways to incorporate them into our cooking whenever we can. Otherwise, we’d never eat enough vegetables. (If we’re being honest with ourselves, a side of roasted veggies with dinner is never going to cut it).
One of the easiest ways we’ve found so far to trick ourselves into eating more vegetables is to create a vegetarian alternative to our favorite meals. We often end up replacing the protein with some sort of vegetable while keeping the flavor profile the same, and it almost always turns out great.
And sometimes, it’s even better than the original recipe – especially when it’s made with fresh, in-season vegetables.
Our first attempt at this recipe was not so good. We picked our own eggplant from our local farm, sliced it up at home, and tried to crisp it in the air fryer instead of going with my mom’s usual method of baking it. We thought it would make the eggplant crispier while using less oil. But it turns out we were wrong – we ended up with unevenly cooked, dried out eggplant that made us both gag a little when we tried it.
This was Alex’s first time trying eggplant parm, so I had to really convince him that it wasn’t supposed to taste that bad, and that we should try again.
So we tried again, following my mom’s recipe more closely, and it finally tasted right. Alex was shocked by how much he liked it, and I was relieved it had turned out tasting almost exactly like my mom’s.
We learned a few things about how to make a good eggplant parmesan during this cooking experiment:
- The ripeness of your eggplant can make or break this dish. A perfectly ripe or slightly under-ripe eggplant tastes best. Eggplant starts to taste bitter as it ripens, so avoid using overripe eggplant at all costs! (We learned this the hard way).
- Baking breaded eggplant slices in a shallow baking sheet filled with vegetable oil ensures the breadcrumbs will get nice and crispy while the eggplant softens and cooks.
- You can never have too much sauce. Don’t be afraid to layer it on there thick – the eggplant will soak it up nicely.
- Depending on the size of your eggplant, you may need to build a few layers, but we recommend capping it at three layers maximum. Any more than that, and the layers don’t stay together well once you serve it. That’s why we use our 9×13 glass baking dish and keep it to two layers.
Not only did this meal get us to eat more vegetables, it also left us craving more as soon as it was gone! All the sauce, cheese, and breadcrumbs blend together with the eggplant into a delicious medley of flavors that legitimately takes eating vegetables to a whole new level.
Try the recipe below and let us know what you think in the comments! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do – and if you’re anything like us, we hope it gets you to eat more vegetables too.
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp onion chopped
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 6 oz canned tomato paste
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Peel eggplant and slice into 1/4-inch thick rounds.
- Whisk together egg and 1 tbsp water in a shallow dish and set aside. Then fill a separate shallow dish with Italian breadcrumbs and set aside.
- Fill a large baking sheet with about 1/4-inch of vegetable oil, or approximately 2 tbsp.
- Working one at a time, coat a slice of eggplant in the egg wash, then transfer to breadcrumbs. Coat evenly with breadcrumbs, gently shake off any excess, and then place eggplant slice on the baking sheet.
- Continue until all eggplant slices are coated, then bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the eggplant is in the oven, make the tomato sauce. First, heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 1 minute.
- Add minced garlic and chopped onion and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring frequently.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and water and stir to combine. Then stir in parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Bring sauce to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Keep warm until the eggplant is ready.
- Spread a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
- Lay cooked eggplant slices down in the dish, then coat with another layer of tomato sauce.
- Top with a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup).
- Add another layer of eggplant slices, then layer with tomato sauce again.
- Top with another layer of shredded mozzarella cheese (about 1 cup).
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve immediately with an optional side of spaghetti.