Ina Garten’s roasted eggplant parmesan recipe is a twist on an Italian classic – called eggplant parmigiana in Italian. Layers of fresh eggplant, combined with marinara sauce, cheese and breadcrumbs makes this dish distinctly Italian.
Ina Garten’s eggplant parmesan is similar to a traditional eggplant parmesan, only it adds salty goats cheese and is baked under a layer of garlic infused breadcrumbs.
An Ina Garten eggplant parmesan is also arguably quicker and healthier than the traditional Italian version, as it calls for the eggplant to be sliced and roasted, as opposed to being coated in breadcrumbs and fried in LOTS of oil.
The garlicy breadcrumb topping in this Barefoot Contessa eggplant parmesan recipe adds a crispy element for texture, not to mention the smell of roasted garlic. This makes my list of must try Ina Garten eggplant recipes.
Keep reading for my top tips to make Ina’s eggplant parmesan, or scroll down for the full recipe and instruction video.
Tips For Making An Ina Garten Eggplant Parmesan
If you love parmigiana, then you should try roasted eggplant parmesan Ina Garten style.
Ina’s recipes are known for being easy for home-style cooks to follow & adjust as needed. Her eggplant parmesan is no different.
Follow these tips for sure success.
- Marinara sauce
- Ina’s eggplant parmesan recipe calls for store bought marinara sauce. If you have a brand you love and trust, go for it. This will definitely save you some time.
- If you prefer to make your own marinara sauce (I do), you can make it in advance, even the day before and store it in the refrigerator until you need it. Scroll to the next section for my go to marinara sauce recipe when im in a hurry.
- Whether store bought or home made, make sure your marinara sauce is thick – not loose and watery. It needs to be thick otherwise you can end up with a sloppy eggplant parmesan that wont hold together well when served and eaten.
- Choosing and preparing the eggplant
- Choose firm, glossy eggplants with smooth skin. Avoid overly large or soft eggplants, as they may have a more bitter taste and affect the texture of the dish.
- Ina cuts the eggplant into half moon shapes, around 1/3 of an inch thick. The eggplant will shrink when roasted, so if your eggplants are particularly small you could consider cutting them across the belly of the eggplant (into circles) or even lengthways (into oval shapes).
- Seasoning! Season and salt the eggplant on both sides before roasting. Ina’s recipe calls for 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt. This seems like a lot but there is a lot of eggplant to season. Also, Ina’s recipe calls for kosher salt which is known for its large flake size. If you are using fine sea salt, you may want to reduce the salt to say 1 tablespoon. Note that goat cheese can also be quite salty.
- Roasting the eggplant: spread the eggplant slices over a layer of parchment paper for roasting. The parchment paper helps keep the eggplant moist and prevents the eggplant from going dry or crispy, which can happen if you roast the eggplant directly on a hot oven tray.
- Building Ina Garten’s eggplant parmesan
- Building your eggplant parmesan is just about layering. Each layer is made as follows:
- Repeat the process for as many layers as you like, then apply any topping over the top layer.
- With the sauce: a few dollops and loosely spreading it around each layer is enough. You don’t need to completely cover each layer in sauce. Remember, the sauce will loosen during the bake and with 3 or 4 layers there will be plenty of sauce to go around. Using too much sauce could ruin the balance of flavors and the dish might not hold together as you would like.
- Ina Garten uses 3 layers in her bake. I also use 3 layers in mine and find this will give you a thick enough serving. You could do 4 layers. I think any more than 4 layers and the weight of the ingredients might start to squash everything down too much.
- Building your eggplant parmesan is just about layering. Each layer is made as follows:
My Go To Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 24 oz jar of Italian passata
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup torn basil leaves
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- Saute the onion in a pan with the oil for about 5-6 minutes until softened.
- Add minced garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the passata to the pan and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to simmer.
- Add torn basil, salt, and pepper.
- Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Ensure the marinara is thick to avoid a runny dish.
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe Variations
Its not part of the traditional Italian recipe but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the dish your own. Here are a few suggestions on what you could do with this dish.
- Cheese Selection:
- Experiment with a combination of cheeses for added flavor complexity. Consider mixing Parmesan, mozzarella, and a touch of ricotta for a rich and creamy texture.
- Herb Infusion:
- Enhance the flavor profile by infusing the marinara sauce with additional herbs. Consider adding a pinch of oregano, thyme, or rosemary to elevate the overall taste of the dish.
- If you enjoy a crispy texture, broil the dish for a few minutes after baking. This helps create an extra golden, crispy crust on top of the eggplant and cheese.
- Fresh Garnish:
- Just before serving, sprinkle freshly chopped basil or parsley on top for a burst of freshness and a pop of color. This not only adds visual appeal but also complements the dish’s flavors.
- Add Kalamata olives between the layers of eggplant for a burst of briny flavor.
Serving The Dish: My Personal Favorites
Eggplant parmesan can be eaten on its own, with a side, or as its own side dish. It makes our list of top Italian vegetable side dishes.
Here are some of my favorite sides to eat with eggplant parmesan:
- Classic Caesar Salad:
- Crisp romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, croutons, and Caesar dressing. The tangy and creamy flavors complement the richness of the eggplant.
- Arugula and Cherry Tomato Salad:
- Peppery arugula combined with sweet cherry tomatoes, dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette. The light and fresh salad balances the savory notes of the eggplant.
- Mediterranean Greek Salad:
- Cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, feta cheese, and olives tossed in a Greek dressing. The briny olives and tangy feta add a delightful contrast. (Or try some of Ina Garten’s salad recipes!)
- Italian Sausages:
- Grilled or oven-roasted Italian sausages, sliced and served alongside the eggplant Parmesan, provide a hearty and flavorful protein option.
- Caprese Salad Skewers:
- Cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves drizzled with balsamic glaze on skewers. A bite-sized and refreshing side to accompany the eggplant.
- Lemon Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
- Brussels sprouts roasted with lemon and Parmesan cheese. The zesty and nutty flavors provide a delicious contrast to the baked eggplant.
- Quinoa and Avocado Salad:
- Quinoa mixed with diced avocado, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a lime vinaigrette. This protein-rich salad adds a satisfying element to your meal.
Ina Garten Eggplant ParmesanCourse: MainCuisine: ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Indulge in classic Italian flavors with Ina Garten’s Eggplant Parmesan. Layers of fresh eggplant, combined with marinara sauce and cheese, baked under a garlicy breadcrumbs topping.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE EGPLANT PARMESAN
2 1/2 pounds of unpeeled eggplant cut into slices 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick (half moons, circles, or ovals)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
24-ounce jar of marinara sauce (Or make my homemade recipe as described above)
1/2 cup of sliced fresh basil leaves
1 pound of thinly sliced fresh mozzarella
8 ounces of goat cheese
1 1/2 cups of freshly Italian Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
INGREDIENTS FOR THE TOPPING:
1 1/3 cups of fresh bread
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil or parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 400°F.
- Lay the eggplant in one layer on a sheet pan and brush both sides with olive oil. On both sides, sprinkle with the oregano, salt and pepper. (Use multiple sheet pans if you have them, otherwise repeat until all of the eggplant is roasted)
- Bake eggplant for 15 minutes. Turn the slices and bake for another 10 minutes, until tender. Remove the the oven and set aside. (Leave the oven at 400°F).
- In a ceramic baking dish at least 2 inches deep, spread 1/3 of the marinara sauce. Arrange a third of the eggplant on top in one layer. Scatter a third of the basil, a third of the mozzarella, a third of the goat cheese, and a third of the Parmesan on top.
- Repeat twice, starting with the marinara and ending with the Parmesan, making sure each layer is evenly distributed.
- For the topping, place the bread, garlic, and basil in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse to moisten the crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dish.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and golden brown. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.