Plant-Based Version of a Restaurant Classic: Parmigiana di Melanzane

Parmigiana di Melanzane (parmiˈdʒaːna di melanˈtsaːne] is an Italian dish that originated in the Southern regions of Italy, particularly Campania and Sicily. Although its ingredients are simple — sliced eggplant, pan-fried in olive oil, layered with cheese and tomato sauce, and baked in an oven – this dish is as scrumptious as it gets.

In the city of Naples, zucchini or artichokes are used in Parmigiana recipes instead of melanzane (Italian for eggplant). As the name of the dish suggests, the cheese most often used is grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan), while other recipes use mozzarella or a combination of other softer melting cheeses.


Parmigiana versions found in countries outside Italy (where Italian immigrants reside) often use breaded veal or chicken in place of eggplant. The popularity of this dish has made it a restaurant classic and a staple for lunch or dinner in households all over the world.

In the United States and Canada, Parmigiana is often served as a main course, in a submarine sandwich, or on top of pasta.

Parmigiana di Melanzane


1 medium onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
¼ cup tomato paste
1¾ teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided
2 large eggs (vegan substitute for 2 eggs: Whisk 2 tbsp flaxseed meal with 5 TBSP water together; set mixture aside for 5 minutes to thicken before use.)
2 tablespoons water
½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups dry bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
9 ounces uncooked multigrain spaghetti
6 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, halved and thinly sliced (or use vegan mozzarella such as Daiya Dairy-Free Mozzarella Style Shreds Dairy Free or GO VEGGIE® Cheesy Bliss Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or use vegan parmesan such as Parma! Vegan Parmesan or GO VEGGIE® Vegan Grated Style Topping Parmesan)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


In a medium-sized cooking pot, sauté chopped onions in olive oil until soft. Add garlic, and continue cooking for another minute. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, tomato paste and 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 25-30 minutes or until sauce thickens or reaches desired consistency.

In a shallow dish, whisk eggs and water (or use flaxseed mixture instead of eggs). Place flour in a separate small bowl. In another bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt, pepper and remaining Italian seasoning. Dip eggplant slices into flour fist, and then dredge them into the egg mixture; and coat both sides with the bread crumb mixture. Place on baking sheets lightly coated with olive oil or cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until tender and golden brown, turning once. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions.

Spoon 2 cups sauce over fried eggplant slices; top with cheeses. Bake 4-5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Serve remaining sauce over spaghetti; top with eggplant slices. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!