What To Serve With Eggplant Parmesan

**Disclosure: We recommend the best products we think would help our audience and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post contains affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, and we may earn a small commission. Read our full privacy policy here.

When it comes to serving eggplant parmesan, it’s important to consider the flavors and elements that will complement this classic Italian dish. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply want to elevate your weeknight meal, the right accompaniments can take your eggplant parmesan to the next level. In this article, we will explore various options for pairing eggplant parmesan with proteins, complementing it with side dishes, selecting the perfect wine, and choosing the ideal dessert to follow. Let’s dive in and discover the perfect accompaniments for this mouthwatering dish.

Understanding the Flavors of Eggplant Parmesan

Before we delve into the options for serving eggplant parmesan, let’s take a moment to appreciate the flavors of this delectable dish. Eggplant parmesan consists of layers of breaded and fried eggplant, smothered in rich tomato sauce and melted cheese. The combination of crispy eggplant, tangy sauce, and creamy cheese creates a harmonious balance of textures and tastes.

But what makes eggplant parmesan truly special is the attention to detail in each component of the dish. From the role of the eggplant to the importance of Parmesan cheese, every element contributes to the overall flavor profile.

The Role of Eggplant in the Dish

Eggplant, the star of the show, adds a unique flavor and texture to the dish. It has a mild, slightly earthy taste that pairs well with the robust flavors of the tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. The eggplant also lends a pleasant creaminess to the overall dish, making it a satisfying and filling meal.

When preparing eggplant for parmesan, it is important to choose the right variety. The most commonly used type is the classic Italian eggplant, which has a deep purple skin and creamy white flesh. This variety has a meaty texture and a slightly sweet flavor, making it ideal for frying and layering in the dish.

Before incorporating the eggplant into the dish, it is often recommended to salt it and let it sit for a while. This process helps draw out any bitterness and excess moisture, resulting in a more flavorful and less watery final product. Once the eggplant slices have been salted and rinsed, they are typically breaded and fried to achieve a crispy exterior while maintaining a tender interior.

The Importance of Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is a crucial component of eggplant parmesan, as its rich, nutty flavor complements the tanginess of the tomato sauce perfectly. The grated Parmesan forms a golden, crispy crust on top of the baked dish, adding a delightful crunchiness that enhances every bite.

When it comes to Parmesan cheese, quality matters. Authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, made in Italy, is considered the gold standard. It is aged for at least 12 months, resulting in a complex flavor profile with hints of nuttiness and sweetness. Grating the cheese fresh ensures maximum flavor and meltability.

In addition to the grated Parmesan, some variations of eggplant parmesan also incorporate other types of cheese, such as mozzarella or ricotta. These cheeses add a creamy and gooey texture to the dish, further enhancing its richness.

When assembling the dish, the cheese is layered between the fried eggplant slices and the tomato sauce. This allows the cheese to melt and meld with the other ingredients, creating a gooey, cheesy goodness that is irresistible.

As you can see, eggplant parmesan is not just a simple combination of ingredients. It is a carefully crafted dish that celebrates the flavors and textures of each component. From the mild and creamy eggplant to the rich and nutty Parmesan cheese, every bite of this classic Italian dish is a delight for the senses.

Pairing Eggplant Parmesan with Proteins

While eggplant parmesan can be a satisfying vegetarian main course, adding a protein element can take it to another level. Here are a few options for pairing your eggplant parmesan with proteins:

Choosing the Right Meat

If you prefer a traditional meat-based accompaniment, consider serving eggplant parmesan alongside juicy grilled chicken or tender veal cutlets. The savory flavors of the meat harmonize well with the robust flavors of the tomato sauce and cheese, creating a hearty and satisfying meal.

Grilled chicken is a classic choice that adds a deliciously smoky flavor to the dish. The tender and juicy chicken breast complements the crispy texture of the eggplant, creating a delightful contrast of flavors and textures. The combination of the rich tomato sauce, melted cheese, and succulent chicken creates a mouthwatering experience that is sure to please your taste buds.

Veal cutlets, on the other hand, offer a tender and delicate meat option. The mild flavor of the veal pairs beautifully with the bold flavors of the eggplant parmesan. The thin and crispy cutlets provide a satisfying crunch that adds another layer of texture to the dish. Whether you choose chicken or veal, both options elevate the eggplant parmesan to a whole new level of deliciousness.

Vegetarian Protein Options

For those who prefer to keep the meal vegetarian, there are plenty of protein-rich options to consider. Adding some sautéed mushrooms or roasted chickpeas to your plate can provide a delicious and satisfying protein boost.

Sautéed mushrooms are a fantastic choice as they add a meaty texture and earthy flavor to the dish. The mushrooms soak up the flavors of the tomato sauce and cheese, creating a savory and satisfying bite. Their umami-rich taste complements the eggplant parmesan perfectly, making it a filling and nutritious vegetarian option.

Roasted chickpeas, on the other hand, offer a delightful crunch and nutty flavor. These protein-packed legumes add a satisfying texture to the dish while providing a healthy dose of plant-based protein. The combination of the crispy chickpeas, creamy eggplant, and tangy tomato sauce creates a delightful medley of flavors and textures.

Alternatively, you can serve the eggplant parmesan with a side of creamy ricotta cheese, which not only adds protein but also complements the flavors of the dish beautifully. The smooth and velvety ricotta adds a luxurious touch to the meal, enhancing the creaminess of the cheese and the richness of the tomato sauce. Its mild and slightly sweet flavor balances out the boldness of the eggplant parmesan, creating a harmonious and satisfying combination.

Complementing with Side Dishes

While eggplant parmesan can be a complete meal on its own, pairing it with a variety of side dishes can elevate the dining experience. Here are some options to consider:

Vegetable Sides to Consider

To balance out the richness of the eggplant parmesan, serving it with a side of vibrant roasted vegetables is a great choice. Roasted asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers add a burst of freshness and color to the plate. The natural sweetness of the vegetables contrasts nicely with the savory flavors of the dish, creating a well-rounded and satisfying meal.

Imagine biting into a perfectly cooked piece of eggplant parmesan, its crispy exterior giving way to a soft and flavorful center. As you savor each bite, the combination of tangy tomato sauce, melted cheese, and aromatic herbs dances on your palate. But wait, there’s more! To enhance this culinary experience, why not add a side of roasted asparagus? The vibrant green spears, lightly charred and tender, provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the eggplant. Their earthy flavor and delicate crunch perfectly complement the main dish, creating a symphony of tastes and textures on your plate.

Not a fan of asparagus? No problem! How about some roasted zucchini? Sliced into thin rounds and roasted until golden brown, the zucchini becomes irresistibly caramelized, releasing its natural sweetness. With each bite, you’ll discover a delightful combination of creamy flesh and slightly crispy edges. The zucchini’s mild flavor acts as a canvas for the bold flavors of the eggplant parmesan, allowing them to shine even brighter. Together, these two dishes create a harmonious balance that will leave you craving for more.

If you’re looking for a pop of color, consider adding roasted bell peppers to your plate. Whether you choose red, yellow, or orange peppers, their vibrant hues will instantly brighten up your meal. Roasting the peppers brings out their natural sweetness, while also imparting a smoky and slightly charred flavor. The juicy flesh, with its tender texture, adds a delightful juiciness to every bite. Combined with the eggplant parmesan, the roasted bell peppers create a visually stunning and palate-pleasing combination that will impress both your taste buds and your guests.

Grain-Based Sides for Balance

Adding a grain-based side dish can provide a hearty element to the meal, ensuring that you feel satisfied and full. Consider serving the eggplant parmesan with a side of fluffy quinoa, creamy polenta, or garlic-infused couscous. These options not only add texture and depth to the plate but also complement the flavors of the dish, making for a truly enjoyable dining experience.

As you take a bite of the eggplant parmesan, the creamy cheese and tangy tomato sauce coat your palate, leaving you wanting more. But what if you could enhance this already delicious dish with a side of fluffy quinoa? Picture a mound of perfectly cooked quinoa, each grain separate and tender. Its nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture provide a delightful contrast to the creamy eggplant parmesan. With each forkful, you’ll experience a harmonious blend of flavors and textures that will satisfy your hunger and leave you feeling nourished.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more indulgent, why not pair the eggplant parmesan with a side of creamy polenta? Made from coarsely ground cornmeal, polenta is cooked until thick and velvety, with a rich and buttery flavor. Its smooth and luscious texture adds a luxurious element to the meal, creating a truly decadent dining experience. With each spoonful of polenta, you’ll find yourself transported to a world of comfort and satisfaction, perfectly complementing the robust flavors of the eggplant parmesan.

For a Mediterranean twist, consider serving the eggplant parmesan with garlic-infused couscous. Made from tiny granules of durum wheat, couscous is light and fluffy, with a delicate texture that melts in your mouth. Infused with the aromatic flavors of garlic, the couscous becomes a fragrant and flavorful accompaniment to the eggplant parmesan. Each forkful of couscous, with its subtle garlic undertones, adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the meal, taking your taste buds on a journey to the sun-drenched shores of the Mediterranean.

Selecting the Perfect Wine

A well-paired glass of wine can enhance the flavors of your eggplant parmesan and elevate the overall dining experience. Here are some wine recommendations to consider:

Red Wines that Enhance Eggplant Parmesan

For those who prefer red wine, opt for a medium-bodied red with good acidity, such as Chianti or Sangiovese. These wines have enough body to stand up to the rich flavors of the dish without overpowering it. Their fruity undertones and subtle earthiness beautifully complement the eggplant parmesan, creating a harmonious and memorable pairing.

White Wines for a Lighter Touch

If you prefer white wine or want a lighter option to accompany your eggplant parmesan, go for a crisp and refreshing white wine like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. These wines provide a refreshing counterpoint to the richness of the dish, cleansing the palate and enhancing the flavors of the eggplant and cheese.

Desserts to Follow Eggplant Parmesan

After enjoying a satisfying eggplant parmesan meal, it’s time to indulge in a delicious dessert. Here are some dessert options that will perfectly complement your main course:

Italian Desserts for a Traditional Finish

To stay true to the Italian theme, consider serving classic Italian desserts like tiramisu or cannoli. These sweet treats will provide a delightful contrast to the savory flavors of the eggplant parmesan, satisfying your sweet tooth and completing the Italian dining experience.

Light Desserts for a Refreshing End

If you prefer a lighter dessert option, opt for something refreshing like a fruit salad or a light lemon sorbet. These desserts provide a palate-cleansing effect, leaving you feeling refreshed and satisfied after your indulgent eggplant parmesan meal.

Next time you make eggplant parmesan, consider these suggestions for a truly memorable dining experience. By carefully selecting the right proteins, side dishes, wine, and dessert, you can turn a simple dish into a culinary masterpiece. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply treating yourself, the perfect accompaniments will take your eggplant parmesan to new heights. Buon appetito!

Leave a Comment