Eggplant Parmesan – A Drool-Worthy Sunday Project

Apr 7, 2021 | Recipes

Do you want a quick meal that you can put together in only a few minutes? Are you looking for the perfect recipe to make on a Tuesday night after work? Is your perfect meal one that takes little to no effort? If you answered yes to any of those questions, move along because this baked eggplant parmesan isn’t any of those things. This is the kind of meal that you need to invest at least two hours of your life into. Is it worth it? I think so. But you be the judge. Let’s get to it.

Preparing The Eggplant

Buying Eggplant

There are many people, and you may be one of them, who have never bought an eggplant. If you’ve never bought an eggplant, you probably don’t know what to look for when you do. Let me help you out. Look for eggplant with clear purple skin. It shouldn’t have discoloured spots, bruises, or punctures. The skin should be tight, and the eggplant should feel firm with no soft spots. To tell if the eggplant is ripe, give it a little squeeze with your fingertips. If your fingers leave dents, the eggplant isn’t ripe yet. For this recipe, you will need an eggplant that is about one pound (454 g). There should be a scale around the produce section, so if you are unsure, you can weigh it.

Cutting the Eggplant

Once you get the eggplant home, rinse it really well under cold running water and pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel or a paper towel. Cut the top off and discard it. Cut the eggplant into quarter-inch (1/2 cm) rounds. You can discard the very end piece.

Salting the Eggplant

Why salt eggplant?

The next step is to salt the eggplant. Salting the eggplant has two purposes. The salt extracts moisture from the eggplant giving it a firmer texture when cooked and removing some of the eggplant’s bitter flavour. So, salting the eggplant makes it taste better and gives it a better texture.

Salting the eggplant

I find that the easiest way to salt eggplant is to line a baking sheet with a paper towel and sprinkle it with a tablespoon or two of kosher salt. Lay the eggplant down in a single layer, then top it with another tablespoon or two of salt and another layer of paper towel. You can put a second layer of paper towel, salt, eggplant, salt, and paper towel on top of the first layer if you need to. Let the eggplant sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Then, rinse the salt off the eggplant, and pat it dry with a paper towel.

Setting Up Your Breading Station

For this eggplant parmesan recipe, the eggplant is breaded. You can skip this step, but the finished dish isn’t going to be as good, so I don’t recommend it. Plus, you’ve come this far. Why not go all the way? To set up, the breading station get three containers. Fill one container with 1 cup of flour seasoned with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Crack 3 eggs into the second container and whisk until the yolks and whites are fully combined. In the third container, measure out 1 1/2 cups of bread crumbs. For the record, I used gluten-free flour and bread crumbs for this.

Breading The Eggplant

To bread the eggplant, which is the same process for breading anything, coat the slices of eggplant in flour, then in the egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Put the breaded eggplant on a tray until you are ready to cook them.

Frying The Eggplant

Whether you bread the eggplant or not, you will need to cook it before assembling your eggplant parmesan. To fry the eggplant, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in a 1/4 cup of olive oil, and cook the eggplant for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Take the cooked eggplant out of the pan and set it on a cooling rack until all the eggplant is cooked. You may need to add more oil to the pan as you go.

Making Marinara Sauce

If you really want to, you can use a store-bought marinara sauce to make the eggplant parmesan, but again, you’ve come all this way. Why take the easy way out now? Marinara sauce is not hard to make. Let me show you. To save time, make the marinara sauce while the eggplant is sitting with the salt.

Prepping the Onion and Garlic

The first step in making marinara sauce is to pep the onion and garlic. Use a medium-sized onion. You want about 1 cup of diced onion in total. If you have a little more, or a little less, it isn’t the end of the world. Cut the top off the onion and cut it in half through the root, then peel it. Make on horizontal slice halfway up each half about 90% of the way through the onion. Make 5 to 6 verticle slices through the onion towards the root, but not through it. Cut across those verticle slices to get a diced onion.

For the garlic, cut the ends off, and gently crush the cloves with the side of your knife. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them as fine as you can. You want about 1 tbsp of minced garlic.

Prepping The Tomatoes

You can use either whole tomatoes and crush them for the sauce or use passata, which is crushed and strained tomatoes. I often use passata, but today I wanted to do something a little differently, so I opted for the whole tomatoes. If you can get them, go with San Marzano tomatoes, they are more expensive, but they taste amazing. The tomatoes I got are “San Marzano Type Tomatoes,” which means absolutely nothing. San Marzano is an area in Italy that is famous for growing tomatoes. They have a specific designation that allows only tomatoes grown in that area to be classified as San Marzano. If they are real San Marzano tomatoes, they will be a product of Italy, first of all. Secondly, they will have the letters D.O.P. on the can. That’s the Italian designation. Crush the tomatoes by hand or with a potato masher.

Making The Sauce

To make the sauce, heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add in a 1/4 cup of olive oil, along with the onions. Cook the onions, stirring now and again, for about 10 minutes or until they start to brown. This browning sweetens the onions, which will help sweeten the sauce, meaning you won’t need to add sugar. Once the onions are browned, add the garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add the tomatoes. Season the sauce with 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Depending on how thick the tomatoes are, you may need to add up to 1/2 a cup of water to them.


While the sauce is simmering, chop a handful of basil,. You want a 1/4 cup in total. Add that to the finished sauce, stir it in, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed with salt and pepper. You can use dried basil here, but I don’t recommend it because it has a much different flavour than fresh basil. If you use dried basil, a 1/4 tsp will do. Add it when you add the tomatoes.

Marinara Sauce

A simple and delicious multipurpose marinara sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Canadian, Italian
Keyword: Marinara Sauce, Tomato Sauce
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add in the olive oil and onions.
  • Cook the onions for 10 minutes or until they start to brown.
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes.
  • Add the salt and pepper, bring to a boil and turn the heat to low.
  • Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes then add the basil.
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Making Baked Eggplant Parmesan

To assemble the eggplant parmesan, put a ladle full of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Top the sauce with a layer of eggplant. Top the eggplant with a ladle and a half of sauce, half a cup of grated mozzarella cheese and a 1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese. Repeat with a second layer, finishing with mozzarella and parmesan.

Baking The Eggplant Parmesan

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake in a 375°F oven for 20 minutes. Take the foil off the pan and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and slightly browned, and a knife easily slides through the eggplant. Take the eggplant parmesan out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving The Bake Eggplant Parmesan

Serve the eggplant parmesan with salad and garlic bread.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant parmesan is a classic Italian dish that everyone should have at least once. When done well the eggplant is tender but still has some bite. The eggplant should have a mild flavour after being salted and properly cooked. This is not the kind of recipe you are going to throw together on a Tuesday, but it is great for a sunday afternoon project.
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Canadian, Italian
Keyword: Casserole, eggplant, Italian Food
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Chef Ben Kelly


  • 1 lb eggplant
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt divided
  • 1 cup flour seasoned with 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 3 Eggs beaten
  • 11/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil divided
  • 1 batch marinara sauce


  • Rinse the eggplant, and pat it dry. Slice it into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
  • Line a sheet pan with paper towel and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of kosher salt. Lay the eggplant on the salted paper towel and top with the remaining 1 tbsp of salt and another layer of paper towel. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse the eggplant under cold running water and pat dry with paper towel.
  • Heat oven to 375°f.
  • Coat the eggplant by dredging it in flour, beaten egg, then breadcrumbs. Set the breaded eggplant on a rack while you finish breading the remainder.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Fry the eggplant in batches until golden brown on each side. This will take 2 to 3 minutes per side. Take the eggplant out of the pan and set it on a rack until the rest has been fried. Add the second amount of oil to the pan as needed.
  • Coat the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with a ladle full of marinara sauce. Add a layer of eggplant and top with another ladle full of sauce, 1/2 a cup of mozzarella, and a 1/4 cup of parmesan. Repeat until all the eggplant has been used. Finish with the remaining sauce and cheese.
  • Cover the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Take the foil off the pan and bake uncovered for 5 to 10 more minutes or until the cheese is golden brown and a knife easily slides through the eggplant. Take the dish out of the oven, allow it to rest for 10 minutes, then serve with salad and garlic bread.


To speed up the process, you can skip breading process. In this case, you would salt and rinse the eggplant as the recipe says, then pat the eggplant dry and fry it as is. The finished eggplant parmesan won’t have the same texture, but it will still be delicious. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

The Wrap Up

As I said, this is not a quick recipe. However, it is worth making at least once. Eggplant parmesan is an amazing dish and one that I think you will really enjoy. Oh, and it’s vegetarian. You won’t even notice. I didn’t

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  1. Mike bowlin

    5 stars
    To find the best eggplant with fewer seeds check the end of the eggplant. The small brown ‘belly button’ (compare several) tells you if the eggplant is male or female. The small button is female and will have fewer seeds and more flesh.

  2. Chef Ben Kelly

    Great tip! Thanks for sharing

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