Grandma’s Eggplant Parmigiana

The way my grandmother made eggplant parmigiana is noting like you get today. First she never breaded the eggplant. Second she did not use mozzarella cheese.

 No mozzarella cheese??? How can it be eggplant parmigiana without mozzarella cheese? 

 If it were called eggplant mozzarella than I can see you asking that. But it’s called eggplant parmigiana for a reason, because it should be made with plenty of Parmigiana cheese. Americans added Mozzarella cheese to this dish, along with anything else they call “Parmigiana”.

So this is a true eggplant Parmigiana the way my grandmother made it many years ago. It’s simple, authentic and very delicious. My mother remembers my grandmother making this when she was a little girl and always raved about it. The taste of the eggplant really comes out without being hidden by all that breading. The secret to this dish is fresh ingredients and use a good Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

Grandma’s Eggplant Parmigiana

  • 2 large eggplant
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can of Italian Peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • oil for frying
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • pinch of oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Wash and slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. Lightly sprinkle each side with salt and lay in a colander. Place a plate on top of the eggplant with a weight on top and allow to drain for at least an hour.


Wipe off the moisture on each eggplant with a paper towel. Heat a large skillet with an inch of oil and fry the slices till golden brown on each side. Add more oil as needed. Place the cooked eggplant on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the oil. Place a layer of paper towel between each layer of eggplant to get as much oil out as possible.


In a large sauce pan heat the two tablespoon of olive oil and saute the garlic for a minute or two. Puree the can of peeled tomatoes and add to the pan. Add basil, oregano,  sugar, salt and pepper (use less salt than you normally would)  and simmer for about  15-20 minutes or until thickened.


In a baking dish or Pyrex pan place a thin layer of tomatoe sauce on the bottom to just cover the pan.


Add a layer of eggplant, spread some more sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle a 1/4 cup of Parmigiana cheese over the top.


Repeat the process till all the eggplant is used up and end with a layer of sauce with a good sprinkle of Parmigiana cheese.


Bake in a 375 degree oven uncovered  for 20 minutes or until sauce bubbles. Cool slightly before serving.

Make sure you have plenty of Italian bread for this.


About Peter Bocchieri

Peter was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and is a second generation Italian-American. He has a degree in Journalism from Long Island University and is an avid photographer, gardener and pet owner. Now that Peter is retired, he is relaxing at his home in North East Pennsylvania and cooking for his sons, Michael and Joseph, family and friends. Peter's passion for food was inspired by his Mother's and Grandmother's cooking, but at the age of 10 Peter felt he could do it better himself, so he did.
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18 Responses to Grandma’s Eggplant Parmigiana

  1. Maria Lyons says:

    This dish was absolutely wonderful and even the people who said they were not eggplant fans love it also!! Make sure you have lots of bread!!!!

  2. Louise Cardone-Calabrese says:

    Peter….. Just strolling through you site… and came across this one that escaped me back then.
    MOMMA MIA….. (and I spell Momma this way) this is the way I ate and still eat eggplant parmigiana today. My mother’s family always made it this way… and I never knew there was another way until I met my mother-in-law. She breaded it… layers with mozzarrella…etc..etc. I like it… but my all time favorite is just like your Grandma’s…. my mother’s family eggplant.
    Since it was my mother’s family … it has to be Scilian. But, they used Romano Cheese 🙂 On fresh Italian bread… like a hero…. oh my God~ ~~~~!!!!! Thanks for your stories, (which I look for so much) and for all the GOOD FOOD you share with us. 🙂 Yes… I’m making it this way later this week. Fortunately we can get Semolina Bartard up here in the crown of Maine… flown in from NJ… frozen. I bake it the rest of the way on my stone. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMY
    Hope you Mom is better.
    My shingles are gone…. I mean the second bout of them …. GONE ! Sixty and older… get those vaccinations for Shingles.

    • Louise Cardone Calabrese says:

      HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019 TO YOU !!!!!!!! Loved getting this from you, as it is making for a truly Happy New Year now……… bringing back all those very loving relatives that have gone on to heaven. Oh Boy !!!!!! This is the best way to eat eggplant for sure. Still my favoriate. I love sharing it with friends……..and watch their faces when they eat it hot or cold tucked inside Itaiial bread 🙂 🙂 Buona 2019 dear friend… that’s what you are now…. after all the time we have spent together like this. Can’t wait to hear from you again. Wishes for a super healthy new year…. bringing you everything you need to be your happiest. How is Pa treating you??????? Would love an update about your new place to hang your hat….and share all you fabulous food too with new friends. Love, Louise

      • Happy New Year Louise! Hope it’s a good and healthy one. PA is treating me well, I have some new recipes to share, just need the time to do it. Soon. All the best!

      • Louise Cardone Calabrese says:

        Glad you are happy there. How lucky they all are to have you. Can’t wait for the new recipes to start coming……….and of course you memories and whatever else you want to share haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa….. Hugs from Maine to Pa. Louise

  3. Pingback: Eggplant Parmigiana – Italian/American Style | cookingitaliancomfortfood

  4. Niamh says:

    This was absolutely delicious – one of my favourite dishes, and this the best version I have come across. Served it with really good green salad, and dressing made with dijon mustard, white wine vinegar and garlic crisped on the pan in in olive oil – which cut across the sweetness of the dish perfectly. Thanks to you and your grandmama x

  5. Barbara Harrison says:

    My friend Diane directed me to your site. We’re from City Island. This recipe for eggplant parmesan is just the way I love it… no breadcrumbs… lots of parmesan. Delicious. And thank you for sharing. Looking forward to more of your recipes. Best wishes. Barbara

  6. Sherri says:

    Like the other readers, this is the eggplant the way my mother used to make it. I still remember as a kid coming in the kitchen and seeing her colander with a towel over it and a bowling ball on top! I knew that meant we’d be having her eggplant! I kick myself all the time for not learning it from her before she died 30 years a go. I loved it so much that on the morning after she made it, I would have a cold sandwich of it for breakfast! I tell people about it and they would look at me weirdly when I would say – no breading, no mozzarella – but I am so happy to see this recipe of yours! I am going to go out now and get the ingredients and make it for my family. Thank you so much!!!!!

    • Sherri, there is nothing better than left over cold eggplant the next day. I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Hope the recipe is true to how your mother made it. That’s the way my grandmother did.

  7. Pingback: Eggplant Rollatine | cookingitaliancomfortfood

  8. Linda says:

    This is way too greasy!

    • Linda, If you find this too greasy for you try baking the eggplant. Eggplants are like sponges and absorb oil. After they are fried, if they are not placed on paper towels to absorb some of the oil it can be greasy. If you bake the eggplant it will solve your problem. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sliced eggplant on a sheet pan in a single layer. Brush both sides of the sliced eggplant with olive oil, cover tightly with foil and bake 10-15 minutes. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

  9. Karen says:

    Hi Peter
    I love your site. I am also Sicilian and your recipes are almost identical to what I grew up on. Most I cook but some recipes have been lost as grandparents passed away. I am enjoying compiling these recipes for my children so our traditions remain. Thank you for your stories as they bring back many memories!
    Sicilian in Boston

  10. Betty welch says:

    I tried this and simply sooooooo delicious will make another one later

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