• Pasta Grammar

5 Delicious Eggplant Recipes | A Full Course Eggplant Meal

Updated: Jul 6

Eggplants are often seriously underestimated in the US and elsewhere, but any Italian will tell you how versatile and delicious they can be! From appetizers to desserts (you heard that right!), Italian cuisine has a thing or two to teach those who shun these misunderstood vegetables.



Watch the Pasta Grammar video where we make these 5 recipes here:




Antipasto (Appetizer) - "Involtini di Melanzane"


These cute appetizers consist of a ricotta cheese filling wrapped in a pan seared slice of eggplant. They're so yummy, you may just turn them into a main course!



For this recipe, you will need:


- 1 large eggplant

- 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese

- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

- 1/8 cup pine nuts, finely chopped

- Olive oil

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper

- Fresh basil


Mix the ricotta, Parmigiano and pine nuts in a bowl with 3-4 torn basil leaves. Salt and pepper to taste.


Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 4-6 slices, each about 1/4-inch thick. Bring a large skillet up to medium/high heat on a stovetop and add a generous splash of olive oil, enough to coat the entire bottom. Fry the eggplant slices, turning over occasionally, until soft and both sides of each are browned. Remove from heat and allow to rest until cool enough to handle.


Lay the eggplant strips flat on a cutting board and add a heaping spoonful of ricotta onto one end of each. Carefully roll the strips up so that they completely encase the filling (you can use a toothpick to hold the eggplant closed if necessary). Arrange vertically on a plate and top each with a few whole pine nuts, a drizzle of olive oil, and a basil leaf.


Buon appetito!



Primo (First Course) - "Melanzane Ripiena di Pasta"


This baked pasta dish not only incorporates eggplant into the sauce, it uses the eggplant skin as a convenient vessel!



For this recipe, you will need:


- 1 large eggplant

- 3 1/2oz. (100g) spaghetti pasta

- 18oz. pure tomato purèe (we recommend milling your own from fresh tomatoes if you have access to excellent produce, otherwise a passatta like Mutti is preferred)

- 9oz. water

- About 1 cup smoked mozzarella cheese, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes (we found this unusual cheese at Whole Foods Market, but if you can't find it substitute regular mozzarella)

- 1 clove garlic, crushed

- Fresh basil

- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper


Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 C).


Cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise. With a paring knife, score the insides of each half with a few grid-like slashes. Be sure not to cut through the eggplant skin! Salt and pepper the eggplant halves and bake on a cooking sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until the "meat" has become very tender and slightly browned.


Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add garlic, a generous pour of olive oil, tomato purèe, water and a few basil leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat and salt to taste. Allow to cook, partly covered, for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally as the sauce reduces.


When the eggplant has finished baking, remove from the oven (keep preheated) and scoop the insides out of the skins, saving both for later. Slice the eggplant meat into small pieces (it's perfectly fine if it turns into more of a mush).


Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and salt generously (2 small handfuls of salt is a good starting place). Add spaghetti and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. The pasta should be undercooked at this point, as it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain and return to the pot.


To the pasta, add a few ladles of tomato sauce, the smoked mozzarella cheese, the eggplant meat, and a generous topping of grated Parmigiano cheese. Stir all together.


Using a pair of tongs, fill each eggplant skin with a heaping mound of pasta. Top with some extra tomato sauce and grated Parmigiano. Bake on a cooking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until the top surface of pasta is just starting to develop some crunch. Serve immediately.


Buon appetito!



Secondo (Second Course) - "Parmigiana di Melanzane"


A Parmigiana is comfort food at its best. With layers of tomato sauce, fried eggplant, mozzarella and Parmigiano cheeses, this dish is simply irresistible!



For this recipe, you will need:


- 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips

- Olive oil for frying, plus a little extra for the sauce

- 24oz. tomato purèe (we recommend milling your own from fresh tomatoes if you have access to excellent produce, otherwise a passatta like Mutti is preferred)

- 12oz. water

- 1 clove garlic

- Fresh basil

- 2 bocconcini (balls) of mozzarella cheese, cubed

- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for grating

- Salt


Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 C).


In a small saucepan, add garlic, a generous pour of olive oil, tomato purèe, water and a few basil leaves. Bring to a simmer over medium/low heat and salt to taste. Allow to cook, partly covered, for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally as the sauce reduces.


Pour enough olive oil into a shallow skillet to submerge the eggplant strips (about 1/2-inch). Bring to a high temperature on the stovetop. To see when the oil is hot enough, simply drop in a small piece of eggplant. If the oil bubbles furiously, it's ready!


Being careful not to splash the oil, slide the eggplant slices into the pan and fry in batches. Turn over occasionally and remove onto a paper towel once the strips are soft and golden-brown. Dab the finished eggplants dry with another paper towel and allow to cool.


In a medium casserole dish (we used one about 10-inches in diameter and 5-inches tall, but you can easily adapt to what you have on hand), begin layering the components. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce, followed by a single layer of eggplant strips, chunks of mozzarella cheese, and a generous grating of Parmigiano. Repeat these steps and finish with a final layer of eggplant, topped with sauce and Parmigiano.


Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 10 minutes or until the surface is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.


Buon appetito!



Contorno (Side Dish) - "Melanzane di Mamma Rosa"



This simple side dish is absolutely addicting. At once sweet, spicy and acidic, it's a quick and easy recipe you're sure to come back to again and again!


For this recipe, you will need:


- 4 cups eggplants, cubed (we used small "fairytale" eggplants but regular is perfect)

- Olive oil

- Red wine vinegar

- 1 clove garlic

- Fennel seeds

- Dried oregano

- Red pepper flakes

- Salt

- Fresh black pepper


Preheat an oven to 425 degrees.


Toss the cubed eggplants with a drizzle of olive oil and spread over parchment paper on a baking sheet. Salt and pepper the eggplants and bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and tender. Toss and turn occasionally with a spoon as they bake.


When the eggplants have finished, mix them with a finely diced garlic clove, a splash of vinegar and olive oil, and a pinch of fennel seeds, oregano and red pepper flakes to taste.


Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.


Buon appetito!



Dolce (Dessert) - "Melanzane con la Cioccolata"


Believe it or not, Italians have even found a way to eat eggplants for dessert! This decadent dish consists of eggplant floured in sugar, chocolate and cinnamon, dipped in chocolate batter, and topped with crushed cookies, nuts and candied citrus peels.



The chocolate batter requires some precision, so we recommend measuring ingredients in grams, as given below.


For this recipe, you will need:


- 3 lengthwise slices of a large eggplant, about 1/4-inch thick

- Vegetable oil for frying

- 150g sugar, plus some extra for dipping

- 100g 60% cacao baking chocolate, chopped into chunks

- 25g all-purpose flour

- 30g unsweetened cacao powder, plus some extra for dipping

- Cinnamon

- Amaretti cookies

- Sliced almonds

- Candied citrus peels (optional but highly recommended)


Pour enough vegetable oil into a shallow skillet to submerge the eggplant strips (about 1/2-inch). Bring to a high temperature on the stovetop. To see when the oil is hot enough, simply drop in a small piece of eggplant. If the oil bubbles furiously, it's ready!


Being careful not to splash the oil, slide the eggplant slices into the pan and fry. Turn over occasionally and remove onto a paper towel once the strips are soft and golden-brown. Dab the finished eggplants dry with another paper towel and allow to cool.


In a mixing bowl, combine 25g flour with 30g cacao powder. Gradually add 150g water while whisking until you have a smooth, even mixture.


In a small saucepan, add 150g sugar and 50g water. Simmer over low heat on the stovetop until the sugar completely dissolves. Add the baking chocolate chunks and stir until dissolved. Now pour the flour/cacao powder mixture into the pot and whisk over low heat until the mixture thickens into a rich batter. Allow to cool for a few minutes.


On a large plate, mix a layer of sugar and cacao powder in equal parts, plus a dusting of cinnamon to taste. You don't need much, just enough to "flour" the eggplant slices.


Coat each eggplant slice in the sugar/cacao/cinnamon mix, then dip in the chocolate batter. Folding each slice in half, arrange the three pieces in slightly overlapping layers on a plate. Top with crushed Amaretti cookies, sliced almonds and small pieces of candied citrus peels.


Buon appetito!




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