The difference between one Eggplant Parmesan and another is how you prepare the eggplant. No matter if you like yours breaded in the classic style or grilled in the healthy style, learning how to make Eggplant Parmesan is easy.
Because eggplant is the main ingredient, the importance of picking a good eggplant is essential. The best eggplants are firm and shiny with unbroken or bruised skin. Try to avoid the female eggplants, which tend to be bitter and have more seeds than the male eggplants. How to tell the gender of an eggplant? Look at the indentation on the bottom. If it is deep and shaped like a dash it is a female. If it is round and shallow it is a male. I like to pick naturally “sweeter” eggplants so I can skip the annoying step of salting the eggplant to draw out the bitter juices. Here are a few varieties to use in your perfect Eggplant Parmesan:
Italian eggplant: Oval and compact this is the classic deep-purple eggplant found in most grocery stores. Pick the medium-sized one that feels heavy for its size.
Sicilian eggplant: A slightly smaller Italian eggplant with a wider base and purple skin streaked with white this is sometimes called a “Zebra” or “Graffiti” eggplant.
White eggplant: Small and round, this eggplant variety really look like eggs hanging from the plant. The skin tends to be tough but the flesh is delicate. The “Albino” or “White Beauty” is ideal when peeled.
Indian eggplant: Deep purple like the Italian eggplant but round, this eggplant is tender with a sweet flavor. Look for medium-sized ones and use them for baked preparations.
Japanese eggplant: Smaller than Italian eggplant this has a black-purple skin. Its elongated oval shape is more pointed at the bottom end than the Italian eggplant. Thin skinned with a sweet flesh makes the Japanese eggplant a versatile pick for frying, baking or grilling.
Pingtung or Chinese eggplant: Easy to recognize by its long thin shape and lighter purple skin this eggplant slices in to beautiful rounds with the skin on—perfect for grilling. Use it in healthy Eggplant Parmesan preparations.
Avoid all small round green colored eggplants—Thai or Pea eggplants—because they are quite bitter.
How you prepare the eggplant makes a difference in the finished dish. On Parmesan.com we have lots of Eggplant Parmesan recipes for everyone.
The classic Italian American Eggplant Parmesan preparation always begins with breading the eggplant by first dipping slices in flour, then egg and finally in plain or seasoned bread crumbs. You can choose to fry the slices in hot oil or spray them with cooking spray and bake them for a lighter breaded version. I think the dish really takes on the taste of the breadcrumbs, sauce and cheese. The eggplant just adds structure.
I like the flavor of eggplant and want them to be a part of the mix. Try the Simple & Easy Eggplant Parmesan and see what you think. In this preparation you simply dip the eggplant in flour and then egg before frying in olive oil. The egg prevents the oil from soaking into the eggplant and produces a silky finish which allows the eggplant texture and flavor to shine through.
Looking for a low-carb and low-fat version of Eggplant Parmesan? Then you must learn how to make our Healthy Eggplant Parmesan. The secret here is simply grilling the eggplant (try the Japanese or Chinese varieties) and then layering slices with Simple Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano® cheese.
The first “Parmigiana di Melanzane” I ever learned to prepare was a unique Neapolitan version. For this the eggplant is brushed with oil and broiled, then layered with tomato sauce into which a couple of eggs have been beaten. With the addition of fresh basil and layers of shredded Mozzarella and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses you have a tasty well-set savory eggplant tart that can be served at room temperature as they do in Italy. We call it our Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe and it is a classic preparation that you absolutely must add to your Eggplant Parmesan repertoire.
So now that you have prepared the eggplant according to your personal tastes, the rest is pretty easy. All you have to do is create layers of eggplant, cheese and tomato sauce—make your own or try our Simple Tomato Sauce for the best flavor.
Remember, the Mozzarella that you pick will make a difference in the end result, too. I like the whole milk Mozzarella blocks (pizza cheese) you buy in the dairy case for Eggplant Parmesan made with breaded eggplant. It is always best to shred your own rather than using the pre-shredded bagged Mozzarella, which is full of cellulose and other preservatives that affect its melt-ability. Try a domestic fresh Mozzarella sliced in the Simple & Easy Eggplant Parmesan or the Healthy Eggplant Parmesan recipes. When making the Baked Eggplant Parmesan recipe I must honor its Neapolitan origin and only use Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, PDO imported from Italy.
No Eggplant Parmesan recipe is complete without the Parmesan! For me the only Parmesan comes from Italy. Parmigiano Reggiano is truly the crowning touch for every Eggplant Parmesan. Italians know that no matter how you choose to make Eggplant Parmesan, using the very best ingredients will make all the difference.