Eggplant Parmigiana (52 New Foods, Around the World Week 12) March 25 2013, 11 Comments

eggplant parmigiana

The secret to making eggplant parmigiana courtesy of the Italian grandma’s who know their stuff when it comes to family-style cooking!

“The trick to eggplant parmesan? Don’t use eggplant.” Standing in my friend Cheri’s kitchen, chatting about the best way to make eggplant parmesan, this is the quip that I hear from the peanut gallery. It pretty much sums up the reaction I got from most of my friends when I announced our new food this week: eggplant. But for each vehement opponent, there was a passionate follower like my mom, who absolutely loves eggplant.

A classic love hate relationship.

Eggplant parmigiana (or eggplant parmesan as some like to call it), is a dish that regularly showed up at our Sunday night family dinners when I was young. It was the one that I always passed on. Something about the texture just didn’t catch my fancy, until I discovered a few simple tricks.

So what’s the secret? A couple of phone calls to the resident Italian grandmas and we had our answer:

1) Slice it thin. No more than ¼”.
2) Flour first. Then egg. Then the breadcrumb and grated parmesan mixture.
3) No bake. Lighting frying in olive oil is the only way to get it crispy.
4) Good sauce. Enough said.

What we Liked: The first time through, I left the eggplant sizzling in the pan a little too long. But my mistake turned into an opportunity. The extra crispiness of the eggplant was what did the trick for my kids (and me) – no mushiness at all!

Eggplant Parmigiana

For a printable version of this recipe CLICK HERE.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings
Crunch a Color points: 15 Purple


eggplant parmigiana ingredients

2 medium eggplants
¾ cup grated parmesan
¾ cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella
6 cups tomato sauce (preferably use our homemade tomato sauce, but if not choose one from a jar with all natural ingredients)
3 large eggs
A few sprigs of fresh basil
Olive oil, for sautéing


1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice. Cut the eggplant into slices no more than ¼” thick!

eggplant parmigiana step 1

3. Dip. First in flour, then in egg, then in the breadcrumb and parmesan cheese mixture. Set it up like an assembly line and let the kids have fun!

eggplant parmigiana step 2

4. Sizzle. Over medium heat, lightly fry the breaded eggplant slices in olive oil. Refresh the oil between batches. Let the eggplant slices dry on a cooling rack before moving to Step 4.

eggplant parmigiana step 3

5. Assemble. Start by putting a layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Add a layer of eggplant, a little basil, then cheese. Repeat.

eggplant parmigiana step 4

eggplant parmigiana step 5

6. Bake. Pop it into your preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

eggplant parmigiana

* What’s your trick for making the perfect eggplant parmigiana? What other ways do you like to enjoy eggplant? Share your ideas!

Craving more easy recipes to try? Catch up on last week’s new food: Roasted Garlic.

About the author: Jennifer Tyler Lee is a mom of two children and the creator of Crunch a Color® -- award-winning nutrition games that make healthy eating fun. Like most parents, she struggled to get her kids to eat healthy, balanced meals, so she decided to make it into a healthy eating game and she’s giving back to support non-profit kids’ nutrition programs. Winner of the Dr. Toy and Parent Tested, Parent Approved awards, Crunch a Color® has been featured by Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Rachael Ray's Yum-O!, Laurie David’s Family Dinner, Kiwi Magazine, Dr. Greene, and Yum Food & Fun For Kids, among many others, as a simple, fun and playful way to get kids to eat healthy and try new foods. Jennifer’s passion is making mealtime fun and healthy for busy families. Her easy recipes, quick tips, and new food adventures are regularly featured at Pottery Barn Kids, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, The Huffington Post, and on her weekly recipe blog at