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I first came across Eggplant Parmigiana as a over the top concoction of egged, crumbed and fried eggplant slices topped with ridiculous amounts of cheese that I firstly didn’t like that much, and secondly crumbing and frying is something that just seems too much hassle (boiling followed by frying in crumbs on the other hand… :)) I later came across a low fat version of the dish that involved dipping the slices in egg white then crumbs and baking them, and that nearly put me off entirely!

Further investigation suggested that the egging and crumbing probably weren’t traditional anyway, but possibly just eggplant, tomatoes, and cheese. However, while I really like eggplant, tomato, and cheese, I also constantly have sourdough breadcrumbs to use up, so I thought a judicious sprinkling of those wouldn’t hurt, plus they help to soak up any excess liquid if you haven’t quite reduced the sauce to the right thickness :). The resulting recipe is incredibly simple and fast (especially if you have the sauce already), and, for me, is the perfect balance between the rich crunch and creaminess of the cheese, and the smoky caramelised eggplant and tangy sauce.

top slices with parmesan and basil

I’m assuming you probably already have your own version of a tomato sauce, or have a favourite jarred version, as well as bought dry breadcrumbs, but if not, I link below to my homemade breadcrumbs recipe as well as the simple tomato sauce I also use for gnocchi.

finish dish with a layer of parmesan and breadcrumbs

Eggplant parmigiana

  • 2 medium/large eggplant (to make 12 1cm slices)
  • salt
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • thick tomato sauce (or your own, or a good bought sauce)
  • 3 Tbs dry breadcrumbs (or standard bought breadcrumbs)
  • approx 50g parmesan
  • handful of fresh basil (optional)
  • 200g mozzarella
  • chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

Slice eggplant lengthwise into approximately 12 slices. If you prefer to salt your eggplant to remove bitterness, layer the slices in a colander, sprinkling a little salt between each layer and leave for abut 15 minutes until drops of liquid are coming out of the slices. Rinse very briefly to remove excess salt and pat dry with a paper towel.

Brush slices lightly with oil on each side, and cook in a sandwich press until brown (see above). If you don’t have one, then brush one side, brown under the grill, then turn, brush the other side and brown again.

Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Mine is a glass one measuring 33x22cm, but any glass, ceramic, or enameled dish that will fit four slices of eggplant would be fine (see above). Top the sauce with four slices of eggplant, then sprinkle on one Tbs of the breadcrumbs, 1/3 of the parmesan, and a few basil leaves. Cover with 1/3 of the sauce. Repeat these layers, then top with the third layer of eggplant, this time covering with basil and sauce first, then sliced mozzarella, and finally the crumbs and parmesan to give a crisp crust.

Heat oven to 200C (180C fan) and cook for about 30 minutes until browned and bubbling. Sprinkle with parsley and /or more basil to serve.

Serves 4 with bread/pasta etc, and is also delicious reheated for lunch.