This Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti combines the deeply flavored tomato meat sauce with crispy panko-crusted eggplant, delivering an outstanding pasta dish just as good as the restaurants. So perfect for a weekend dinner or date night!
I adore eggplants for many reasons. But, it’s not always easy to get my kids excited about eggplants. When I saw my friend Kayo who shared her Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan on My Home Cooked Meals, I knew instantly that I could do a Japanese twist to the recipe that wins the kids’ hearts. Enter this Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- A delicious way to celebrate the mighty eggplant.
- The eggplant is coated with crispy panko and fried until golden brown, and when paired with the luxurious meat sauce in spaghetti, you get an extra hearty, succulent and satisfying result.
- It makes an elegant date night dinner, but also super family-friendly. My kids scarfed their plates down!
Japanese-style Meat Sauce vs. Bolognese Sauce
I used my favorite Japanese-style Meat Sauce in this pasta recipe. The main difference between the Japanese rendition and the classic Italian bolognese sauce is that we use both ground beef and pork to render a more robust flavor. Besides, the use of ground pork makes the sauce tender. We also tend to add more chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, and mushrooms into the sauce to create more body, umami, and texture.
The rich, tomato-y sauce requires long-simmering and it’s a labor of love. To save time, I like to cook the meat sauce in advance and save a portion for this Eggplant Parmesan Pasta the next day.
3 Quick Tips for Making Delicious Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti
1. Salt the eggplant
This extra step may sound tedious, but it’s 100% worth doing. Not only it helps to retain the color, but salting also helps prevent the eggplants from soaking up as much oil from frying. After salting, be sure to pat dry with paper towels.
2. Use Japanese Panko breadcrumbs
You can use regular western-style breadcrumbs, but panko would yield a much airy and crispy texture for the eggplant Parmesan.
3. Fry the eggplant
There are recipes that toast and bake the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, but I like to keep to the classic preparation by frying the eggplant slices. You can only achieve the nice crispy crust and deep caramelized flavor by frying, and not baking. To minimize the greasiness, use a large frying pan/ skillet and a lesser amount of oil to shallow-fry instead of deep fry.
Even though the meat sauce alone makes a delicious pasta, the pank0-crusted eggplant Parmesan takes an equal role in this recipe. Both are complimentary for making the pasta exceptional.
My kids who don’t normally get excited about eggplants insisted on extra servings when I made this for dinner. I hope you too will enjoy the recipe! If you fancy, serve it with a glass of your favorite Riesling or red.
Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
For the Eggplant Parmesan
- 1 American/globe eggplant
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour (plain flour)
- 2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell) (beaten)
- 1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
- 2 cups neutral-flavored oil (vegetable, rice bran, canola, etc) (for deep frying)
- 8 oz Mozzarella cheese (226 g; fresh)
For Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti
- 1 lb spaghetti (cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions)
- spaghetti meat sauce (pre-cooked)
- Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese (grated)
- basil (to garnish)
To Prepare Eggplant Parmesan
- Cut eggplant into ⅓ inch (8.5 mm) thick rounds and soak in water for 10 minutes.
- Pat dry the eggplant slices with paper towels to remove moisture completely.
- Working with 1 slice at a time, dredge eggplant in flour, shaking off the excess, then dip in the beaten egg. Let the excess drip off, and dredge in panko until evenly coated. Transfer to a plate and continue with the next slice until you’re all done.
- For better presentation, wipe off panko from the eggplant skin with your finger, so it shows the beautiful purple color.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, shallow fry the eggplants until golden brown. Once they are nicely brown and crisp, transfer them to paper towels to drain. If you are new to frying, read this post.
- Place slices of eggplant on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Put the mozzarella cheese on top and broil until the cheese is melted, about 2-3 minutes.
To Assemble Eggplant Parmesan Spaghetti
- Place cooked pasta on individual serving plates and pour the meat sauce over. Then sprinkle freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and top with the eggplant Parmesan. Lastly, pour more meat sauce on top and garnish with basil. Grate extra Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese so everyone can add their preferred amount of cheese on top. Enjoy!
- You can keep the leftovers (separately) in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 3 days or in the freezer for a month.