Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

, from Issue #100. December, 2021
Photography by Josh Griggs.
Classic Eggplant Parmigiana

This is one of my all-time favourite vegetarian Italian dishes – a true classic.

Serves: 6-8


400-gram tin chopped plum tomatoes in juice
400-gram tin puréed and sieved tomatoes or passata
1 clove garlic, crushed
¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
2 teaspoons caster sugar
50ml red wine
¼-⅓ cup olive oil
2-3 eggplants (about 800 grams), ends trimmed and cut into ½-1cm-thick slices
200 grams firm mozzarella, grated
80 grams parmesan, grated
⅓ cup basil leaves, torn
sea salt and black pepper
60 grams buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks


Gently heat the tomatoes and juices in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, chilli, sugar and wine and season to taste. Stir to dissolve the sugar and let simmer for 20 minutes, until reduced.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the eggplant slices for a couple of minutes per side over a medium-high heat, until soft and cooked through. Repeat until all the eggplant is cooked. There's a fine line between dry, tasteless eggplant, and mushy, oily eggplant. The trick is to keep the pan fairly hot, then don't be tempted to keep adding more oil. You want to end up with slices that are cooked through and moist.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.

Lightly brush the base and sides of a 24cm round oven dish with olive oil. Start with a very thin layer of tomato sauce, followed by snug slices of eggplant, then grated mozzarella, parmesan, basil and salt and pepper. Repeat layers, finishing with tomato sauce, a sprinkling of grated mozzarella and parmesan and the buffalo mozzarella dotted over the top. Cook for 30 minutes, then let sit for 10 minutes before serving with a big green salad.