This Eggplant Parmesan is a classic comforting Italian dish makes great use of the wonderful purple vegetable. Gooey cheese on top of a delicious homemade tomato sauce with eggplant (aubergine) halves as the base. A great dish to boost your veggie intake, and fancy enough to wow guests too. No breading, no frying, just healthy comfort food!
Whether you call them eggplants or aubergines, they are delicious and there is so much that you can do with them. We love their meaty texture and although they are usually great for bulking out a meal, they are the star of the show here. A delicious tomato pasta sauce layered on top and covered in melty cheese. Comfort food perfection!
Why you will love it
- Healthy Italian comfort food
- A delicious new way to enjoy aubergines
- You can easily add some extra veggies to it
- Perfect for a dinner party
- It can be a starter or a main
- Aubergines (eggplant) - The star of this dish! Look for aubergines with smooth, shiny skin that are all the same colour and heavy for their size. To test for ripeness, lightly press a finger against the skin. If it leaves an imprint, the aubergine is ripe. Choose smaller aubergines, as they tend to be sweeter, less bitter, have thinner skin and less seeds.
- Pasta sauce - We have included the recipe for our easy homemade tomato sauce, however you can use a store bought one. Try to use the best quality you can buy, as you really will be able to taste the difference.
- Basil - A little fresh basil before serving will really lighten up the whole dish.
- Parmesan and Mozzarella - We used a a mixture of cheese, as it makes it deliciously creamy.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make Eggplant Parmesan - Step by step
One: Slice the aubergines in half length ways and make diagonal scores across the insides.
Two: Top with the Easy Tomato Pasta Sauce.
Three: Add the cheese.
Four: Put in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 for 40 minutes, until the aubergine is cooked through. Top with fresh basil to serve.
Is it healthy?
Traditionally this recipe has a tonne of cheese and is then topped with breadcrumbs. We used less cheese, and reduced fat, and skipped the breadcrumbs.
You could also bulk it out with loads of extra vegetables, because, why not?! Spinach is easy to chop into the tomato sauce and although it is a bit of a random addition to it, and I am sure any Italians reading this are screaming at their computer screen, it totally works.
Also, aubergine is a good source of fibre, vitamins B1, B6 and K and also potassium. So, even more reason to make this delicious dish.
How to stop aubergine being bitter
What I love about this dish is how easy it is to put together, however, if you usually find aubergine dishes too bitter, then you might want to add an extra step to this recipe.
To remove some of the bitterness from aubergine, simply sprinkle the halves with a LOT of salt, put them on some sheets of paper towel and leave them there for about an hour. You will start to see little bits of liquid, almost like beads of sweat, appear on the outside of the eggplant as the salt starts to pull all the moisture out. Once the hour is up, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat it dry and then follow the recipe as normal.
What to serve it with
Well, it is a classic Italian dish, so pasta or gnocchi is always a great choice. But you could just serve it with some protein like grilled chicken or salmon. It's a pretty rich and filling dish, so we usually just have it with a big green salad and some fresh bread.
Yes, you can freeze this recipe, which makes it great for batch cooking. I would suggest freezing it in little foil trays, so you can just pop them in the oven once defrosted and brought to room temperature.
This is a really easy dish to make vegetarian (as Parmesan isn't always vegetarian), or even vegan. Simply swap the cheese for your favourite vegetarian or vegan alternative and follow the rest of the instructions as they are.
Yes, this is an easy dish to make ahead of time. Just layer it all up and then put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook it. If you are adding breadcrumbs to yours, I would recommend leaving that until just before you put it in the oven, as they might go a bit soggy if put on in advance.
If you are going to use salt to pull some of the moisture out first, I would definitely suggest doing that in advance, as it takes a while.
Make sure you bring the dish to room temperature before putting it in the oven though, as it will change the cooking time and the dish might crack.
More Italian recipes
Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 Aubergine (eggplant)
- 8 tablespoon Tomato pasta sauce
- 10 g (0.5 cups) Fresh basil - chopped
- 50 g (1.75 oz) Vegetarian Parmesan - grated
- 50 g (1.75 oz) Light Mozzarella - grated
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C(fan)/400°F/Gas 6.
- Slice 2 Aubergine (eggplant) in half length-ways and make diagonal scores across the insides.
- Top with 8 tablespoon Tomato pasta sauce.
- Add 50 g Vegetarian Parmesan and 50 g Light Mozzarella.
- Put into the oven for 40 minutes until the aubergine is cooked through.
- Top with 10 g Fresh basil.
- If you want to make this really crispy, then add some breadcrumbs (panko work really well) on top of the cheese. It will change the nutritional information though.
- Give this dish a veggie boost by chopping up some spinach and mixing it in to the tomato sauce.
- If you wanted to make smaller versions of this, instead of using eggplant halves, you could slice it into rounds and put in a baking dish (with a little sauce at the bottom). This makes it great to serve up as a starter.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.