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Naples Eggplant Parmesan

This deliciously simple recipe for Naples Eggplant Parmesan pairs perfectly baked eggplant rounds with a rich tomato sauce, crispy Panko breadcrumbs, creamy mozzarella cheese and of course plenty of parmesan for a simple Italian dish that is perfect served over pasta. This lighter version of a traditional eggplant parmigiana is perfect for the summer months when tomatoes and eggplant are at their best.

Top view of Eggplant Parmesan over pasta.

Eggplant Parmesan is a classic Italian casserole dish with disputed origins yet collectively attributed to southern Italy, most especially… Naples, although the dish is widely popular all over the country, not to mention… the world! I love making it at the height of summer when eggplants are plentiful – it is delicious served over pasta or with a side of bread.

While preparation varies and recipes are many, most often it’s prepared by successively layering slices of eggplant in a casserole dish drizzled with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese before baking. Regardless of how you make it, it will always be delicious!

The History of Eggplant Parmesan

A little history with your dish? It always enhances the flavors for me!

Eggplant Parmesan, parmigiana di melanzane, is dominant in Naples but also is popular in the Campanian countryside, Calabria and Sicily.

While we’ll never know specifically where or when the dish originated, we do know, its first mention was from poet Simone Prudenzani (1387-1440) and appeared in chef Vincenzo Corrado’s cookbook published in 1786 where he instructs, “Eggplant can be cooked alla Parmigiana, meaning the eggplant was seasoned with butter, herbs, cinnamon and other spices and grated Parmigiano cheese and covered with a cream sauce made with egg yolks before being oven-baked.”

It wasn’t until 1837 that a dish very similar to what we know today as Eggplant Parmesan was published in Ippolito Cavalcanti’s Cucina Teorico-practica cookbook in Naples, 1837. (Use the provided link to view the original cookbook — in Italian!)

Speaking of attribution. This recipe is my mom’s. It’s a lighter, healthier version than most, but completely filling — even for a teenage guy.

It’s also easy and quick!

Serve over pasta drizzled with olive oil. It’s a special and tasty dish that’s on regular rotation in our house.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make my own sauce?

I use jarred for speed, but of course! I like this one which only needs 3 ingredients.

Can I use different breadcrumbs?

I like Panko as they keep things nice and crispy and I always have them on hand, but homemade dried breadcrumbs, and Italian-style breadcrumbs will also work well.

Can I make this ahead?

For the best results to keep the breadcrumbs nice and crispy assemble this just before you plan to bake it – the leftovers are rather good, though!

Eggplant Parmesan assembled in a glass baking dish ready to bake.

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Top view of Eggplant Parmesan over pasta.

Naples Eggplant Parmesan


  • Author: Stephanie Wilson
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 2-4 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

This deliciously simple recipe for Naples Eggplant Parmesan pairs perfectly baked eggplant rounds with a rich tomato sauce, crispy Panko breadcrumbs, creamy mozzarella cheese and of course plenty of parmesan for a simple Italian dish that is perfect served over pasta.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (see note)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Japanese Eggplants, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/22/3 jar spaghetti sauce (we always use Prego Fresh Mushroom Pasta Sauce)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (or to taste)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • pasta for serving (we use spaghetti or tagliatelle)
  • fresh basil, for garnish
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees. Prepare a 13 x 9-inch pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
  2. Slice the eggplant in 1/4-inch medallions.
  3. Prepare three shallow dishes for dredging, dipping and coating: one with flour, one with the eggs and milk, slightly beaten, and one with the Panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Take each slice, dredge in flour followed by a dip in the egg mixture and finally into the Panko crumbs for a final coating. Place in the 13 x 9-inch pan. You will make 3 rows. Each eggplant will slightly overlap successively until the row is finished. Complete the dredging, dipping and coating of each eggplant until the pan is filled. Sprinkle the eggplant with a little salt and freshly ground pepper.
  5. Using a spoon, drizzle the spaghetti sauce down the length of each row of sliced eggplant. Then sprinkle the shredded Parmesan cheese.
  6. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until the eggplant is tender.
  7. Remove the foil, sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese over the eggplant slices and return to the oven. Bake for another 5-10 minutes uncovered until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve over spaghetti drizzled with olive oil and garnish with a fresh basil leaf.

Notes

Substitute all purpose flour if that is all you have to hand.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Eggplant Parmesan, parmigiana, eggplant, aubergine, Italian, Naples, dinner

6 Comments

    1. With the breading, it somewhat masks the texture and is definitely enhanced with the pasta sauce. I hope you like it!

  1. I have some “dunno what to do” eggplants in my fridge. Thx for give me delicious idea.

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