Flavorsome eggplant covered with layers of cheese and tomato sauce, all within a delicious bread roll – the eggplant parmesan sandwich is one of the ultimate comfort foods around!
This Italian-American classic is recreated by chefs worldwide and loved by foodies everywhere, but is especially popular in the US. You can find this delicious dish in virtually every Italian restaurant across the States. Best when made by using fresh ingredients, eggplant parm works well both as an appetizer and an entree.
If you’d like to learn more about eggplant parm and subsequent sandwich, where it’s from, and where you can get it - keep on reading! If you’re only here for some restaurant recommendations, skip to the bottom of the page.
Yes, eggplant parmesan is an Italian dish! However, in Italy, they simply call it parmigiana or parmigiana di melaneze.
When looking at the history of the baked eggplant parmesan, we came across a few origin stories. Namely, the battle is between the cities of Sicily, Naples, and Parma. So, who is right?
In all honesty, we’ll probably never know for absolutely sure, but we can go over the facts.
Parmesan cheese was invented around 900 years ago in the Parma region of Italy by monks. Since its invention the cheese grew in popularity, becoming one of the most loved cheeses in the world. Tasty and easy to handle, parmesan is a true cheese lover’s dream.
Eggplant, on the other hand, was brought to Europe around the 12th century. From this we can see that both parmesan and eggplant were introduced at roughly the same time. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that they were combined to the dish we know and love today.
This original recipe was first mentioned in some Neapolitan recipes, which leads people to believe Napoli is the birthplace. Of course, the old Neapolitan recipe isn’t quite the same as what we cook today, but it still counts.
To summarize, even though parmesan cheese was invented in Parma, the eggplant parm recipe is probably Neapolitan through and through. Sicily is also in this mix, but mainly because parmigiana is so popular there today! We couldn’t find any info suggesting it’s the birthplace of this delicacy.
As for the eggplant parm sandwich specifically, we can’t be sure exactly who created it. However, we are super happy they did!
The way eggplant parmesan sandwiches are made is pretty simple. In restaurants they usually use fresh ingredients, which make the dish all the more delicious.
The whole process starts by peeling and breading the eggplant. Then, the veggie is fried until golden brown. Olive oil is usually the oil of choice, both to maintain the Italian way and to cut down on trans fats!
Once the eggplant is fried, the layering stage begins. In a baking dish, the chef spreads a bit of marinara sauce. Then, a layer of fried eggplant slices comes along, followed by a layer of cheese. This process is repeated until the dish reaches the desired height.
The very top layer consists of a single layer of cheese. Once assembled, the eggplant parmesan is baked for about 20 to 30 minutes. After taking it out of the oven, some chefs like to sprinkle a bit of fresh basil on top. This introduces some lovely fresh herbiness to the dish.
Even though the traditional eggplant parm recipe doesn’t include meat, some restaurants do have a meaty version. Made with either chicken or ground beef, the meaty variety tastes great. Given that the meat is spiced on its own, it introduces a new range of flavor to the parmigiana.
Once the eggplant parm is done, it’s time to construct the sandwich. For this, your chef usually uses a fresh Italian or French roll and coats it in marinara sauce. After that, the eggplant parm is added. If the sandwich is served closed, the cheese goes inside. If it’s meant to be open, the cheese gets melted on top, toasting the bread in the process.
While yes, an eggplant parm sandwich is a pretty healthy dish, it may not be as filling as a chicken parm one. This is something you have to take into consideration if you’re dieting or following a specific meal plan. The recipe is also lower on protein, but does have a high amount of fiber within.
To put things into perspective, one cup of eggplant parm has 350 to 400 calories. From them, 28 come from fat, 12 from carbs, and 18 from protein.
For comparison, a cup of chicken parm has 335 calories, with 19g fat, 0 carbs, and 38g protein. Add to those numbers the calories from the bread and sauces and you get a pretty good amount.
As you can see, these two dishes are pretty similar, but offer different nutritional values.
All in all, if you’re trying to up your protein, go for chicken. If you want a vegetarian version with loads of fiber, go for eggplant parmesan!
If all this food-talk made you hungry, we’d love to recommend some amazing restaurants that serve it! We’re choosing three cities to highlight on this short list. If you don’t find yours on it, make sure to head to the Slice website.
There, you can search by dish and location, so you’ll surely find your new favorite eatery in no time!
To everyone in Chicago, we’d like to recommend Suparossa. Their amazing menu features great eggplant parmesan!
V&T in New York City is another great spot. Aside from eggplant parm, they also serve a variety of other Italian dishes, so you can really feast!