An air fryer makes a healthy version of this South Italian favourite, with the same great taste. Serve as a side or main course with a piece of bread to mop up the sauce!
Eggplant parmesan (melanzane alla parmigiana) is a simple baked layered dish made with eggplant, tomato sauce and melted cheese.
This recipe makes a delicious healthy eggplant parmesan for a main course or side. Serve it warm along with roasted meat, a fresh green salad and some crusty bread.
We recommend preparing this a few hours (or even a day) in advance as the flavours will develop on resting and come together beautifully, making it a most delicious, rich and satisfying comfort food.
The traditional way of cooking this dish, is to lightly fry the slices of eggplant in oil till they are slightly browned. However, eggplant is rather like a sponge and capable of absorbing large amounts of oil.
This recipe uses less oil so you can enjoy more of this guilt free version of eggplant parmesan.
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Why use an air fryer?
An air fryer is a healthier alternative to sautéing the eggplant slices as they tend to absorb quite a bit of oil.
The air fryer works by rapidly circulating hot air round the food, keeping a steady temperature.
At 1300W, our model uses less energy than a regular oven and because it is smaller, cooking times are significantly reduced.
Little oil is required, making an air fryer a healthier option than shallow or deep-frying.
For foods with low-fat content like these eggplant slices, coat with a small amount of oil (usually a tablespoon is enough), to flavour and brown the surface.
Rub the slices with a tiny bit of oil then cook them in the air fryer – they turn out great!
The eggplant browns nicely and develops a crisp exterior which seals the moisture in.
The higher temperature settings achieves a Maillard reaction giving browned food its distinctive flavour.
The basket size is usually non-stick so it is very easy to clean.
Selecting the eggplants
Although eggplants (aubergines) are available in stores throughout the year, they are at their best from July to October.
Select eggplants which are firm with a glossy skin.
Air frying eggplant
To make healthy low oil eggplant parmesan, salt the eggplant slices to remove excess moisture (this also gives a better texture when cooked), then leave to drain in a colander for 30-90 minutes.
Rinse off the excess salt then arrange the slices on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Brush a small amount of olive oil over the slices and arrange in a single layer in the basket of the air fryer. They will need to be cooked in batches.
Use tongs to remove the cooked eggplant.
Our classic Italian Tomato Sauce is perfect for this recipe, it can be prepared ahead or while the eggplant is cooking in the air fryer.
Building the layers
Eggplant parmesan is layered like lasagne.
- Begin by greasing a baking dish then spread a thin layer of sauce around the bottom of the dish.
- Arrange a layer of of eggplant slices over the top, then some freshly grated black pepper and a sprinkling of grated cheese.
- Repeat till all the ingredients are used up.
- Top with thin slices of mozzarella or fior di latte.
- Bake in the oven.
Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top and a piece of warm bread to mop up that delicious sauce!
For a slightly different version, add sliced hard-boiled eggs between the layers to make it even more delicious.
Storing eggplant parmesan
The eggplant slices can be air fried in advance and kept in the fridge till needed.
Cover and store the eggplant parmesan in a closed container the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze then thaw in the fridge before reheating.
Why not try any of these recipes as a side dish for eggplant parmesan:
- Verza Stufata (Italian braised savoy cabbage)
- Cavolo nero with garlic and lemon
- Baked kale with parmesan
Are you making this Eggplant Parmesan recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out in the comments below and don’t forget to leave a star rating.
Instagram – I love seeing your creations, so post a picture, tag @endofthefork and hashtag #endofthefork
Healthy Eggplant Parmesan Recipe (Air-Fryer)
- 2 medium eggplants washed and dried then sliced 1 cm thick
- salt for salting
- 2 tablespoons olive oil for rubbing over slices
- 450 grams Italian tomato sauce 2 cups
- 110 grams mozzarella cheese 4 ounces, or fior di latte, sliced and drained
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano grated
- 2 medium eggplants, saltSalt the eggplant slices and place in a colander. Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes. Rinse the slices and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- 2 tablespoons olive oilRub a little oil over the eggplant and arrange a few at a time in the air fryer basket, in a single layer. Cook at 390℉/200℃ for 6-7 minutes. Repeat till all the slices are cooked.
- 450 grams Italian tomato saucePreheat oven to 350℉/175℃. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a medium baking dish, then layer the eggplant on top so they overlap each other slightly.
- 110 grams mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepperGrind some black pepper on top and add some mozzarella. Repeat the layering with sauce, eggplant and cheese, till all the ingredients have been used.
- 2 tablespoons parmigiano reggianoBake for 20 minutes or till cheese is melted. Serve warm or room temperature, with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Make ahead and storingThe eggplant slices can be air fried in advance and kept in the fridge till needed. Cover and store the eggplant parmesan in a closed container the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze then thaw in the fridge before reheating.
The ingredients here on EOTF are set out in grams & milliliters and in US cups & spoons.