Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana is the vegetarian version of Chicken Parmigiana, and is a low-carb dream come true. Called Parmigiana di Melanzane in Italian and known as Eggplant Parmesan in the US, it’s essentially a Lasagna made with thin slices of eggplant instead of pasta, layered with tomato sauce, fresh basil and plenty of molten cheese. To... Get the Recipe The post Eggplant Parmigiana appeared first on RecipeTin Eats.

Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana is the vegetarian version of Chicken Parmigiana, and is a low-carb dream come true. Called Parmigiana di Melanzane in Italian and known as Eggplant Parmesan in the US, it’s essentially a Lasagna made with thin slices of eggplant instead of pasta, layered with tomato sauce, fresh basil and plenty of molten cheese.

To say this is outrageously good would be the understatement of the year. This is epic vegetarian comfort food, at its best!

Eggplant Parmigiana

If Moussaka is Greece’s answer to Italian Lasagna, then Eggplant Parmigiana is Italy’s comeback. And what a comeback it is!!!

This is one of those incredible vegetarian dishes that’s so good, nobody pauses for a moment to wonder “where’s the meat??”.

It’s comfort food to the max. It oozes with cheesy goodness. It’s slick with fresh tomato sauce. It’s littered with the subtle freshness of basil. And with every bite, you get a mouthful of the juicy soft eggplant layers.

There are a few steps involved in making this. But as one of the greatest vegetarian-low-carb dishes imaginable, it is worth second!

Close up of a piece of Eggplant Parmigiana being scooped out of a dish
Slice of Eggplant Parmigiana on a plate

The 3 Parts of Eggplant Parmigiana

Here are the 3 parts of Eggplant Parmigiana:

  1. Thin slices of eggplant – I opt to bake rather than the traditional deep frying in an copious amounts of oil. I guarantee you won’t miss the oil (but your hips will thank you for it!);

  2. Tomato sauce (Sugo) – A semi quick one that we simmer for 30 minutes to develop flavour, breakdown the tomato and thicken so it’s not watery; and

  3. Fresh Basil & Cheese – for layering.

What you need to make Eggplant Parmigiana

1. Eggplant slices

First up, here’s all you need for the eggplant slices:

Eggplants for Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Eggplants / aubergines – We need 4 to 5 sizeable eggplants for this recipe. 1.8kg / 3.6lb in total. Sounds like a lot, but we need them! Eggplant shrinks when cooked, and we need enough to cover 3 layers of a full size casserole dish. Also, the eggplant is sliced about 3 times thicker than it is for Greek Moussaka, so we need more; and

  • Olive oil – For brushing the slices before we bake them.


2. Tomato sauce (“Sugo”)

The sauce for Eggplant Parmigiana is a classic Italian tomato Sugo (which means “sauce” in Italian). It’s thicker than what you’d make for pasta because otherwise the Eggplant Parmigiana will be too sloppy and impossible to serve (reasonably!) neat slices.

Here’s what you need:

Ingredients in Tomato Sauce for Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Tomato Passata – Pureed, strained pure tomatoes, sometimes labelled Tomato Puree in the US (here’s a photo of Mutti Tomato Passata sold at Walmart). Readily available in Australian supermarkets nowadays, alongside pasta sauces. It’s excellent for making thick, smooth sauces. More on Tomato Passata here;

  • Crushed or finely diced Tomato – The better the quality, the better your sauce! Cheap canned tomato tends to be sour and not really taste of what it should ie tomato!

  • Oregano – Or basil will work a treat here;

  • Garlic – Lots of it! Primary flavouring for this dish; and

  • Sugar – Just a touch, to bring out the natural sweetness of the tomato. If you have the time to simmer the tomato sauce and simmer it for 1 1/2 hours you can skip the sugar.


3. Cheese & basil for layers

And for sandwiching between each layer as well as finishing the top:

Ingredients in Eggplant Parmigiana
  • Parmesan – Essential flavouring and seasoning for this dish, used to sprinkle on each layer;

  • Mozzarella – I did say right upfront there’s plenty of molten cheesy goodness in Eggplant Parmigiana! Hey, we can afford the calories here, remember, this is a low-carb dish!

  • Fresh basil – Used to scatter on each and every layer as well as garnishing the finished dish.


How to make Eggplant Parmigiana

Bake eggplant slices > Make Sauce > Assemble & bake!

1. Baked Eggplant Slices

How to make Eggplant Parmigiana
  1. Eggplant slices – Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 8mm / 1/3″ thick slices. Place onto 3 lined trays then brush each side with olive oil; and

  2. Bake in a 220°C/430°F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the eggplant is lightly browned.

No salt? That’s right, no salt. You often see recipes calling for salt sprinkled on the raw eggplant to draw water out which tenderises the flesh and makes the eggplant absorb less oil when cooking. Common wisdom also claims that salt removes the bitter taste in eggplants. However the reality is modern eggplants have had any bitterness bred out of them so it’s not a necessary step today.

We do not need to salt the eggplant for Eggplant Parmigiana because we found that it makes the dish too salty once you add the parmesan (even after patting the moisture off). Also for this dish, the tomato sauce makes the eggplant flesh beautifully tender and juicy. So, no salt!

3 trays filled with baked eggplant for Eggplant Parmigiana
Slice of raw eggplant brushed with olive oil, ready to be baked for Eggplant Parmigiana.
Close up of baked slices of eggplant for Eggplant Parmigiana
Lightly browned cooked eggplant slices.

2. Tomato sauce

How to make Eggplant Parmigiana
  1. Sauté onion and garlic with the oil, then add everything else (tomato passata, crushed tomato, oregano or basil, salt and pepper); and

  2. Simmer for 30 minutes until it reduces into a fairly thick sauce, as pictured below. You should be able to draw a path along the base so it remains visible for a few seconds.

    The sauce needs to be thick otherwise you’ll end up with a sloppy Eggplant Parmigiana that can’t be sliced.

Black skillet fresh off the stove with Eggplant Parmigiana tomato sauce

3. Assembling and baking Eggplant Parmigiana

How to make Eggplant Parmigiana
  1. Smear some tomato sauce on the base of a baking dish. This stops the first layer of eggplant from sliding around;

  2. Eggplant layer – Top with a layer of eggplant, using 1/3 of the eggplant;

  3. Tomato Sauce – Spread with 1/3 of the tomato sauce;

  4. Olive oil – Drizzle with olive oil;

  5. Basil – Scatter with 1/3 of the basil leaves;

  6. Parmesan & mozzarella – Sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan and mozzarella;

  7. Repeat – then repeat twice more ie 3 layers. However, don’t put basil on the top layer (we’ll save it for a fresh garnish once baked); and

  8. Bake for 25 minutes in a 180°C / 350°F oven until the cheese is bubbly and golden, and the smells wafting out of your oven are knee-bucklingly good!

Finish with a sprinkle of fresh basil leaves just before serving.

White casserole dish with freshly made Eggplant Parmigiana

Let the Eggplant Parmigana rest for 5 to 10 minute before cutting to serve. This helps ensure you can cut neat(ish) slices, like so:

Close up photo of a slice of Eggplant Parmigiana
Close up of fork eating Eggplant Parmigiana

Meat-free food this good could even convert me into a vegetarian…

OK, I’m totally exaggerating there. Just a throwaway line that sounds good so I can convince you to make this! ???? Everybody knows that I’m a sucker for roasts. I could never give up meat!!! – Nagi x

PS The Eggplant Parmigiana is pictured above with a Rocket and Parmesan Salad, minus the parmesan because I figure I’ve already used enough in the dish! (That’s Arugula Salad, to those of you in the States). Any big green leafy salad will work a treat here. See here for all my side salads and vegetables.


Watch how to make it

White baking dish with Eggplant Parmigiana, fresh out of the oven
Print

Eggplant Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane)

Recipe video above. There's a little labour involved in this. But you'll be rewarded with one of the all-time greatest vegetarian comfort foods known to man kind!
Assemble ahead then pop in the oven to bake when you're ready!
Course Mains, Vegetarian
Cuisine American-Italian, Italian
Keyword Eggplant parmesan, Eggplant parmigiana
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 8 – 10 people
Calories 352cal
Author Nagi

Ingredients

Baked Eggplant Slices:

  • 1.8kg / 2.6lb (5) large eggplants (aubergines) , sliced lengthways 8mm / 1/3" thick (skin on, Note 1)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (for brushing)

Layers:

  • 1 2/3 cups parmesan , finely grated
  • 2 cups basil leaves (loosely packed), stalks reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella , shredded (for topping) (Note 2)

Sugo (tomato sauce):

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion , finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves , finely minced
  • 600ml / 20oz tomato passata (Note 3)
  • 400g/ 14oz canned tomatoes , crushed or finely chopped (Note 4)
  • 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh oregano , finely chopped (or 1/2 tsp dried oregano, or 1 sprig fresh basil)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

Baked Eggplant:

  • Line three large trays with baking/parchment paper.
  • Brush eggplant slices on each side with oil. (Don’t salt)
  • Arrange in a single layer and bake at 220°C/430°F (200°C fan) for about 35 – 45 mins or until browning and tender, turning the eggplant halfway. The tray on the bottom shelf may need to stay in for an extra 5 minutes or so.
  • Leave on trays to cool.

Tomato Sauce (Sugo):

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Sauté onions and garlic for 3 minutes until softened and just starting to colour on the edges.
  • Pour in the passata , canned tomatoes, water, oregano and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  • Simmer uncovered for about 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened, adding the basil stalks halfway through cooking (so they don’t lose their flavour).
  • The final consistency should be slightly thicker than a pasta sauce so it’s spreadable and not leeching liquid, but not too pasty either. Add extra water a little at a time if required during cooking if it gets too thick. Remove the stalks and discard.
  • Stir in salt and pepper. (Remember, we get salt from the parmesan too)

Assembling & baking:

  • Reduce oven to 180°C/350°F (160°C fan).
  • Smear a little tomato sauce in the bottom of baking dish.
  • Layer 1: Lay one third of the eggplant so it covers the base (some overlap is OK when layering eggplant). Spread 1/3 of the remaining sugo over eggplant. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the parmesan. 1/3 of basil leaves.
  • Layer 2: Repeat with 1/3 eggplant, tomato sauce, olive oil, basil and parmesan.
  • Layer 3 (top layer): Repeat again with eggplant, tomato sauce and olive oil. Do not put basil on top layer (we will garnish after baking). Scatter with parmesan then mozzarella.
  • Bake for 25 mins until bubbling and golden.
  • Rest: Let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Scatter over remaining fresh basil leaves. Cut like lasagna and serve! (Optional: sprinkle with extra parmesan).

Notes

1. Eggplant (aubergine) – No need to salt, it makes the overall dish too salty. Eggplant will become tender with the pre-baking on trays, then baking with sauce. Contrary to popular wisdom, salting is not required to draw out bitterness. It’s been bred out of modern eggplants.
2. Mozzarella cheese – feel free to use other cheese (like cheddar, gruyere etc) but cut back a bit on the parmesan on the top layer so the dish isn’t too salty.
3. Passata – pureed, strained pure tomatoes, sometimes labelled Tomato Puree in the US (here’s a photo of Mutti Tomato Passata sold at Walmart). Readily available in Australian supermarkets nowadays, alongside pasta sauces. Smooth and thick rather than chunky like canned tomato, so no need to simmer to break down the tomato. More crushed canned tomato can be used instead, but simmer sauce for extra 15 minutes.
4. Canned tomato – Mutti polpa/pulped tomatoes is my preferred. Best to use finely chopped or crushed, will break down nicely in required cook time. If using normal diced or chopped, then sauce will be a bit chunkier. Remember, with canned tomato, you get what you pay for. Cheap canned tomatoes tend to be quite sour and firm.
5. Adapted from this recipe by Gourmet Traveller. Changes we made: we don’t fry the eggplant (really, you won’t miss it). We don’t salt the eggplant (it was too salty). And we don’t blend the sauce (it’s really not necessary, and some texture is nice). And they don’t top with mozzarella (criminal!).
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings.

Nutrition

Calories: 352cal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 35mg | Sodium: 841mg | Potassium: 970mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 960IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 418mg | Iron: 3mg

Life of Dozer

Dozer in his usual position while I’m shooting a recipe video….

Dozer Lemon Tart

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Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week! The post Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

Are you ready for this? Because I wasn’t quite ready for how easy and delicious this meal was. When I sat down to eat my first bowl of these Pesto Chicken and Vegetables I was like, “Oh yes, I’m going to make this every single week.” It’s the perfect light, flavorful, and fast recipe for meal prep. And it’s just SO SIMPLE.

Vegetable Options

I used a summery mix of yellow squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, green beans, and red onion for this quick sauté, but there are a lot of options when it comes to the vegetables. Here are some other vegetables you could add:

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Fresh corn
  • Asparagus
  • Spinach

The key thing to keep in mind when using different vegetables is when to add them to the skillet. For this recipe you don’t want to fully cook the vegetables. They should be just tender-crisp. So, keeping that in mind, add sturdy vegetables first and tender vegetables later to make sure they don’t get overcooked.

Can I Substitute the Chicken?

Yes, there are options for that, too! I think shrimp would be absolutely awesome in this recipe, as would tofu. If using tofu, I would do a cornstarch coating and fry it separately (see the technique used in this recipe) before tossing it together with the vegetables and pesto at the end.

How to Serve Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

I ate this dish as-is, just a bowl of flavorful chicken and vegetables. But there are more options! You could eat this over a bowl of rice, stir in some cooked orzo or quinoa, or even add them to a bed of greens. Honestly, I would probably even add them to a flat bread and top with mozzarella as a sort of vegetable pizza!

How Long Does it Stay Good?

I got about four days out of my pesto chicken and vegetables, but this can vary depending on the conditions in your refrigerator, freshness of the ingredients, and how long you cook the vegetables. As I mentioned above, you want to barely cook the vegetables for this recipe. Just make them tender-crisp so they don’t get too wilted. Not only does this give them great texture and a fresh, bright flavor, but they last a little longer in the fridge, too.

side view of a bowl full of pesto chicken and vegetables
Easy pesto chicken and vegetables in a skillet with a spatula

Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables

This Easy Pesto Chicken and Vegetables meal prep is super fast and easy, and holds up well in the fridge for tasty lunches all week!
Total Cost $11.07 recipe / $2.72 serving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 369.33kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Equipment

  • Pyrex Glass Meal Prep

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper $1.50
  • 1 zucchini $0.60
  • 1 yellow squash $0.50
  • 1/2 red onion $0.19
  • 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast $6.67
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil $0.08
  • 1 cup frozen green beans $0.67
  • 1/3 cup pesto* $0.73
  • 1/8 tsp salt* $0.01
  • 1/8 tsp freshly cracked pepper* $0.01
  • 1 Tbsp grated Parmesan* $0.11

Instructions

  • Chop the bell pepper, yellow squash, and zucchini, and slice the red onion. I like to make different shapes for each vegetable, but aim to make the pieces all around the same size.
  • Cube the chicken breasts into ½-inch pieces.
  • Add the cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once the skillet and oil are very hot, add the chicken and sauté until the chicken pieces are opaque (3-5 minutes – the chicken will continue to cook as you add vegetables).
  • Add the green beans to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes more, or just until thawed.
  • Add the bell pepper and red onion to the skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes more. If water is beginning to pool in the skillet, turn the heat up slightly. It should be hot enough that the water released from the vegetables evaporates quickly.
  • Add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet and continue to sauté 2-3 minutes more, or just until the squash softens slightly.
  • Turn the heat off, add the pesto to the skillet, and stir until everything is coated. Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if desired. Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Notes

*You may need more or less pesto, salt, pepper, or Parmesan depending on the volume of your vegetables and your personal taste. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 369.33kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.68g | Protein: 36.8g | Fat: 19.2g | Sodium: 423.15mg | Fiber: 3.43g
Pesto chicken and vegetables in glass meal prep containers lined up side by side

How to Make Pesto Chicken and Vegetables – Step by Step Photos

Chopped vegetables on a cutting board

Chop the vegetables first so they’re ready to go. Chop one red bell pepper, one yellow squash, one zucchini, slice ½ of one red onion and measure 1 cup frozen green beans. I like to do different shapes for the vegetables, but aim to keep them roughly the same size.

Cubed chicken breast on a cutting board

Cut 1.3 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast into ½-inch pieces.

Cooked chicken in the skillet, frozen green beans being poured in

Add 2 Tbsp cooking oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high. Once very hot, add the cubed chicken and sauté just until the chicken is opaque (3-5 minutes – it will continue to cook as you add more vegetables). Next, add the frozen green beans and sauté for a couple of minutes more, or just until thawed.

Red bell pepper and red onion added to the skillet

Next add the bell pepper and red onion. Continue to sauté a couple of minutes more. If you see water pooling in the skillet, turn the heat up higher. The heat should be high enough that any moisture released by the vegetables evaporates quickly.

zucchini and yellow squash added to the skillet

Finally, add the yellow squash and zucchini to the skillet. Sauté just a couple of minutes more, or just until the raw edge is taken off the squash.

Pesto being added to the skillet

Turn the heat off. Add about ⅓ cup pesto to the skillet and stir until everything is coated.

Finished pesto chicken and vegetables

Give the vegetables a taste and add salt, pepper, or more pesto if needed (I added a pinch of each).

pesto chicken and vegetables in a bowl topped with a pinch of parmesan

Top with a light sprinkle of Parmesan just before serving.

Three glass meal prep containers full of pesto chicken and vegetables

Perfect for meal prep!!

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