Baked Eggplant Casserole Recipe
This baked eggplant casserole combines tender eggplant, pasta, marinara sauce, and all your favorite cheeses, all baked to perfection in one dish. It’s not only comfort food at its best but a great way to sneak some extra veggies into your diet.
So grab your apron and get ready to create this baked eggplant casserole. I promise that everyone will be asking for seconds (and maybe even thirds!).
As with many things in the kitchen, this eggplant casserole is the result of an accident. I intended to make Chicken Parmigiana.
On the night it was planned, I had all the ingredients but no motivation. I managed only some chicken tenders with panko, coconut, and peanuts. We stuffed them into pita pockets and pulled out all the condiments from the fridge.
Unfortunately, I was left with the desire for Parmigiana, some mozzarella and basil, and no chicken. But there were two eggplants in the fridge, and I had a new goal: weeknight eggplant Parmigiana.
Eggplant Parmesan (melanzane alla parmigiana) is traditionally made by slicing, draining, and frying the (sometimes breaded) eggplant. The eggplant slices are then layered with tomatoes or tomato sauce, mozzarella, and Parmesan and baked.
This eggplant casserole borrows some of these elements. Instead of frying the eggplant, it is brushed with olive oil and roasted in the oven while you make tomato sauce and the pasta cooks. Omit the fussiness of layering. Just mix everything willy-nilly in the pasta pot, turn it out into a casserole dish, and bake.
- Eggplant – use Italian eggplants for this recipe, and not the bright purple Chinese or Japanese eggplants. You’ll want eggplants are medium in size at most – they should feel heavy for their size and have smooth skin.
- Pasta – any short, sturdy pasta will work in this recipe.
- Mozzarella – this recipe works best with fresh mozzarella, but you can use dried, pre-shredded mozzarella.
- Parmesan – buy your Parmesan as blocks of cheese and grate it at home with a microplane. Please don’t use the green can for this recipe.
Tips and tricks
What to serve with baked eggplant casserole
- A side salad like a simple green salad or this rainbow salad bowl.
- Garlic bread or a crusty bread like a baguette or this semolina bread made as a free-form loaf.
- If you’re drinking wine, pick an unassuming red blend or medium-bodied red. This is not the time for a big Cabernet Sauvignon.
Yes. Although much of it was relatively unattended while I was on the treadmill and showering and then cleaning up the prep dishes. It can be done while working from home, or save it for a weekend and open up a nice bottle of red wine to go along.
Yes, if you are pressed for time. Salting removes the liquid from the eggplant (remember osmosis?) but it’s much more important if you are frying eggplant.
The eggplant definitely doesn’t remain as solid slices in this dish. If you hate mushy eggplant, I’d probably do a traditional parmigiana. I can’t vouch for this, but the NY Times claims to have a crunchy eggplant parmesan variation.
Yes. Although you would want to add the basil garnish only after reheating.
Yes. The most obvious component to freeze would be the tomato sauce.
Related pasta recipes
Make another Ugly Duckling Bakery pasta dish like:
Or go for beans with this cheesy white bean tomato bake.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-heart 💜💜💜💜💜 rating in the recipe card below. Let me know how much you loved it, or any problems you had, in the comments section further down.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 16 ounces dried, tubular-shaped pasta (e.g. penne, rigatoni)
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- salt and pepper to taste red pepper flakes, if desired
- 1 cup basil, coarsely chopped plus additional for garnish
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, coarsely chopped
- 1 ounces Parmesan, grated
- Cut the eggplant into one half inch rounds, smear with salt, and let drain in a colander for 30 minutes.2 medium eggplants, salt
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Wipe off and dry the eggplant slices. Place them on a baking sheet and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake them for about 40 minutes, flipping them over midway, until they have softened.3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- Meanwhile, start a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta to al dente. Drain and return it to the pasta pot.16 ounces dried, tubular-shaped pasta (e.g. penne, rigatoni)
- In a large sauce or saute pan with a lid, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrot and saute until softened.3 tablespoons olive oil, divided, ½ medium onion, finely chopped, 1 carrot, finely chopped
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.2 cloves garlic, minced
- Add the tomatoes and sugar cover. Bring the tomato sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes.28 ounces canned whole tomatoes, ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- Add salt and pepper to taste.salt and pepper to taste
- When the eggplant is done, let it cool for a minute or two, and then slice into one half inch strips.
- Add the eggplant, tomato sauce, basil and chopped mozzarella to the pasta pot and stir to combine.8 ounces fresh mozzarella, coarsely chopped, 1 cup basil, coarsely chopped
- Turn the mixture out into a 9 by 13 inch pyrex pan or other baking dish, top with Parmesan cheese, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the Parmesan has browned.1 ounces Parmesan, grated
- Garnish with basil.1 cup basil, coarsely chopped
This baked eggplant casserole was first posted on March 25, 2021. It was last updated on April 23, 2023.
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