Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan is a delicious, hearty dish that's quick and easy to prepare. It has the same soul-satisfying flavor and texture as the baked version, but it takes considerably less time to make.
I adore baked eggplant parmesan, but creating it from scratch entails a lot of work. Salting and frying the eggplant slices, making the marinara sauce then forming the layers is all fine if you have some time on your hands, but until you're yearning for all of those yummy tastes once more, this stuffed version will do just fine!
Do you peel eggplant before cooking?
I'm frequently asked if the skin is edible, and the answer is a resounding yes! But if it’s an extra-large eggplant, which could likely mean it’s older and therefore has tougher skin, it’s a smart idea to peel it. But small, young eggplant, or the long this Asian (sometimes called Japanese or Chinese) varieties have thin, tender skins that add great texture to the vegetable when cooked. And the skins are also nutrient dense.
If you do want to peel the eggplant before making the recipe, you could use a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife. Make sure the thickness of the shell inside is a little bigger though if you peel the eggplant to make sure it is sturdy enough to retain shape while being stuffed.
What is marinara sauce?
Marinara sauce is a tomato-based sauce that is typically made with garlic, onions, and olive oil. It can be used as a pasta sauce or as a topping for pizza. Some variations also include herbs such as basil or parsley.
You can buy it in the store as a quick and simple way to make recipes such as this one or make it from scratch if you have a bit more time.
What you need to make Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
- Medium eggplants
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Yellow onion,
- Cloves garlic
- Marinara sauce
- Shredded mozzarella
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh basil leaves
- Toasted pine nuts (optional)
- Panko breadcrumbs
How to make the recipe
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, carefully cut around each half's insides leaving a ¼-inch border. Using a spoon, scoop out the flesh. Chop the flesh coarsely and set it aside.
Brush the eggplant shells inside with around a tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Put the cut side up shells on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven until tender when you press the tip of a paring knife into them. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chopped eggplant, garlic, and salt and pepper until golden brown and cooked through, 10 minutes.
Mix in one cup of the marinara sauce and heat up, usually 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Stir in 1 cup of mozzarella, ¼ cup of Parmesan, basil, and pine nuts.
In a small mixing dish, combine the breadcrumbs, remaining 2 Tbs. Parmesan, and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil; set aside.
Pour the remaining cup of marinara sauce over the eggplant shells in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, spreading it evenly. Transfer the eggplant shells to the baking dish with the filling spooned inside. Top each shell with mozzarella and breadcrumbs before cooking.
Broil the dish, 8-10 inches from the heat source, until the cheese is bubbling and the breadcrumbs have browned. It usually takes 4-5 minutes to heat all the way through.
Serve hot, spooning the sauce over the eggplant. Finish with the rest of the shredded basil.
Storing the recipe
If you have leftovers, warm them in the microwave in a dish that is safe for microwave use or in the oven. Cover the dish with tinfoil and bake until ready.
You can use different types of breadcrumbs in place of the Panko ones but I always find they give the best crunchiness and also brown nicely.
In place of the mozzarella, you could use any cheese that melts well. Something like Monterey Jack is always a good substitute or you could even try some cheddar.
Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
- 2 medium eggplants about
- 2 ½ lb. total
- 4 Tbs. olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- 1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella about 6 oz.
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese about 2 oz.
- ¼ cup torn fresh basil leaves plus more for topping
- 3 Tbs. toasted pine nuts optional
- ⅓ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a paring knife, cut around the insides of each half leaving a ¼-inch thick border. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.
- Brush the insides of the eggplant shells with 1 Tbs. of the oil and season with each with salt and pepper. Place the shells cut-side up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs. of oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant, garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 cup of the mozzarella, ¼ cup of the Parmesan, the basil and pine nuts. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, remaining 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan, and remaining 1 Tbs. oil; set aside.
- Pour the remaining cup of marinara sauce into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, spreading it evenly. Transfer the eggplant shells to the baking dish. Spoon the filling into the shells, top with the remaining mozzarella, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Broil, 8 to 10 inches from the heat source, until the cheese is bubbling, breadcrumbs are browned, and the filling is heated through, 4 to 5 minutes. Serve warm, spooning the marinara over the eggplant. Garnish with basil.