Easy aubergine parmigiana recipe
By BBC Maestro
Looking for an easy, delicious recipe that works for any occasion? Whether you’re making a simple midweek dinner for one, or cooking for a crowd, aubergine parmigiana is our favourite go-to.
What is aubergine parmigiana?
Aubergine parmigiana, sometimes also known as melanzane parmigiana, is an Italian dish of layered aubergine slices, sandwiched between tomato sauce, and topped with cheese, melted in the oven to create a delicious comfort food dish that’s perfect all year-round.
You might think that it’s named after the city of Parma in the north of Italy, but it actually originated from southern Italy, and is usually thought to come from the regions of Calabria, Campania, Apulia and Sicily. Each region has its own version of the dish.
In Cosenza, a mixture of fried courgettes and baked aubergine is used, while in Naples, they forego the aubergine entirely and use either courgette or artichokes instead. Some regions, both in Italy and beyond, use breaded veal or chicken cutlets. Other versions of the dish also layer slices of boiled egg along with the aubergine.
The opportunities to jazz this dish up are endless, but sometimes simple is best. As Marco Pierre White says in his BBC Maestro course, Delicious Food Cooked Simply, “the more you do to food, the more you take away from it”.
He goes on to explain:
“Like all Italian food there are many regional variations that include breaded meat as well as aubergines, but I like the simplicity of the original; a version in which the end product is an uncomplicated, comforting meal of great sustenance.”
So, how do you make it? Here’s Marco’s take on this classic Italian recipe.
Aubergine parmigiana recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Three aubergines
- One lemon, cut in half
- 500g plain flour
- 6 eggs, beaten
- Olive oil
- Grated Parmesan
- Tomato sauce (use the tomato sauce recipe from Marco Pierre White’s BBC Maestro course, or make your own by combining tinned tomatoes, sugar, seasoning and oregano)
- Fine salt
Slice each aubergine lengthways into slices about 1.5cm thick. As you cut the slices, rub both sides of the aubergine with the cut lemon.
Lay the slices out on a tray and lightly salt all the slices on both sides. Leave the slices on the tray for 20 minutes to extract the water.
After 20 minutes, dry each slice of aubergine individually. Then dip them one at a time into the flour and the beaten egg, leaving the slices in the egg until you have three or four.
Heat a glug of olive oil in the base of a heavy frying pan over a medium to high heat. Once it’s shimmering and hot, carefully lay the aubergine slices in a single layer – but be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
Fry the slices until they’re golden brown on the outside and tender in the middle. Transfer the cooked aubergine slices to a flat try and immediately sprinkle with grated Parmesan. Repeat the process of flouring, egging, frying, and sprinkling until you’ve cooked all the aubergine slices, and they’re lying on a tray absorbing the grated Parmesan.
Pre-heat your oven to 120 C / Fan 100 C / Gas mark 1.
Drizzle the base of an oven-proof dish with olive oil. Pour in enough tomato sauce to evenly, and sparingly, cover the base of the dish. Lay in enough fried aubergines to line the base of the dish, leaving a few gaps is better than overlapping and overcrowding. Spoon three tablespoons of the tomato sauce on to each aubergine, then top with another fried aubergine slice, more tomato sauce, and a final layer of aubergines.
Spoon just enough sauce on to the top layer of aubergine to lightly cover. Add another sprinkling of Parmesan, then bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.
Serve, topped with sliced basil and a drizzle of olive oil.
If you’re feeling indulgent, you could also add a layer of mozzarella in between each layer of tomato sauce and aubergine slices. It’s also easy to make this recipe vegan, by swapping the Parmesan for a substitute vegan cheese or nutritional yeast, and using olive oil to coat the aubergine instead of egg.
What to serve with aubergine parmigiana?
This classic Italian recipe is delicious served on its own, with nothing but a splash of olive oil and some shavings of basil, or with a light green salad – perfect for spring/summer evenings.
Want to create a more substantial meal? Serve it with chips or roasted potatoes, or some crusty bread or ciabatta. For some extra protein, you could serve it alongside meatballs, or with Marco Pierre White’s olive oil lentils.
Aubergine parmigiana is a classic recipe you should add to your repertoire. Once you’ve made it once or twice and got the hang of it, why not master some more of Marco Pierre White’s recipes from his Delicious Food Cooked Simply course – or check out the cooking courses on offer from some of our other maestros, such as Vineet Bhatia and Pierre Koffmann.