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(Redirected from Eggplant parmesan)
Melanzane alla parmigiana
Place of originItaly
Region or stateCampania
Main ingredients
VariationsChicken, veal, shrimp, meatball[1]

Parmigiana (/ˌpɑːrmɪˈɑːnə, -ˈʒɑː-/, Italian: [parmiˈdʒaːna]), also called parmigiana di melanzane [parmiˈdʒaːna di melanˈdzaːne; -ˈtsaːne], melanzane alla parmigiana [melanˈdzaːne; -ˈtsaːne ˌalla parmiˈdʒaːna], or eggplant parmesan, is an Italian dish made with fried, sliced eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce, then baked. The origin of the dish is claimed by the Southern regions of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily. Other variations found outside Italy may include chicken, veal, or another type of meat cutlet or vegetable filling.


There are several theories about the origin of the dish. Most frequently its invention is attributed to either Parma, Sicily or Campania.[2][3] The case for Parma is that Parmigiana refers to Parma and because Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is produced there. Sicilian food writers have several different explanations for a Sicilian origin. According to author Pino Correnti, the word parmigiana derives from the Sicilian word for damigiana, a wicker sleeve used both for wine bottles and the hot casserole in which the dish would be prepared and served. Authors Mary Taylor Simeti, Vincent Schiavelli, and several others write that the name derives from the Sicilian word for louver, palmigiana. The angled horizontal slats of a louver would resemble the layering of eggplant slices in the dish. Writer Franca Colonna Romano Apostolo suggests that the name is parmiciana, which means Persian in Sicilian.[4][5]

Wright traces the origin of parmigiana to Naples. The ancestor of the modern dish appears in Vincenzo Corrado's cookbook Il cuoco galante from 1786. His recipe described eggplant seasoned with butter, herbs, cinnamon, other spices and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which was then covered with a cream sauce of egg yolks before being baked in an oven. The modern version with Parmigiano-Reggiano and tomato ragù as key ingredients appears several years later in Ippolito Cavalcanti's cookbook Cucina teorico-pratica, which was published in Naples in 1837. According to Wright, this suggests that the dish evolved in Naples during this time frame, which coincided with the increasing popularity of the tomato in Italian cuisine.[6][7] Author Marlena Spieler agrees with a Neapolitan origin of the dish for the same reasons.[8]


The dish consists of sliced eggplant, pan-fried in oil, layered with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in an oven.

In some versions, the sliced filling is first dipped in beaten eggs and dredged in flour or breadcrumbs before frying. Some recipes use hard grated cheeses such as Parmigiano, while others use softer melting cheeses like mozzarella, or a combination of these.

Italian variations[edit]

In Cosenza, parmigiana is prepared with fried zucchini and baked eggplants. It is typically made in layers with grated fresh mozzarella and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

In Naples, parmigiana is also prepared using zucchini or artichokes in place of eggplants.[9]

International variations[edit]

Variations made with breaded meat cutlets, such as veal and chicken, have been popularized in other countries, usually in areas of Italian immigration. In such areas, the original dish may be called eggplant parmigiana to distinguish it from the meat versions.[1]

In the United States and Canada, chicken parmigiana and veal parmigiana are frequently served as a main course, often with a side of pasta. Chicken parmigiana is also served as the filling of a submarine sandwich.[10] The alternative anglicization Parmesan is sometimes used instead, and the abbreviated form parm is common.[1] The use of meats as an alternate to eggplant originated in the United States, where it was influenced by similar Italian dishes. A similar veal dish is known in Italian as cotoletta alla bolognese, which excludes tomato sauce but includes melted Parmesan cheese and prosciutto.[11] Costolette Parmigiana is another similar veal dish, but in Italy it is generally served without sauce or cheese.[12]

Chicken parmigiana is also a common dish in Australia and is often served with a side of chips or salad.[13][14] In Australia, where the name is often shortened to parma[15] or parmi,[16] it may also contain a variety of toppings, including sliced ham or bacon.[17]

In Argentina and in other neighboring South American countries, veal or chicken parmigiana is topped with ham and served with french fries. It is known as milanesa a la napolitana.[18][19][20][21] If the dish is topped with a fried egg, it is known as Milanesa a caballo, but omits the tomato sauce.[22][23]

In England, parmo uses either pork or chicken topped with béchamel sauce instead of tomato sauce.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Clark, Melissa (January 30, 2015). "Parmigiana Dishes to Warm Weary Souls". The New York Times. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "The Eggplant Parmigiana: one dish, many versions -". 2020-02-20. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  3. ^ "What's the Deal With Eggplant Parmigiana?". La Cucina Italiana. 2022-06-17. Retrieved 2023-04-04.
  4. ^ Wright, Clifford A. "A History of Eggplant Parmesan". Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  5. ^ Wright, Clifford A. (2012). Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's Compendium of All the Vegetables from the World's Healthiest Cuisine, with More Than 200 Recipes. Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 9781558327757.
  6. ^ Wright, Clifford A. "A History of Eggplant Parmesan". Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  7. ^ Wright, Clifford A. (2012). Mediterranean Vegetables: A Cook's Compendium of All the Vegetables from the World's Healthiest Cuisine, with More Than 200 Recipes. Boston, Massachusetts: The Harvard Common Press. pp. 133–134. ISBN 9781558327757.
  8. ^ Spieler, Marlena (2018). A Taste of Naples: Neapolitan Culture, Cuisine, and Cooking. London: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 189–191. ISBN 9781442251267.
  9. ^ Francesconi, Jeanne Caròla (1995) [1965]. La vera cucina di Napoli (in Italian). Roma: Newton Compton Editori. pp. 219–20. ISBN 8881830213.
  10. ^ Ostrosky, Marie. "Veal Parmigiana Recipe". Food Network. Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  11. ^ "Cotoletta alla bolognese" (in Italian).
  12. ^ Kaminski, Margot (October 12, 2006). "Fake Accent". Chowhound. Retrieved November 1, 2015.
  13. ^ "America's Best Chicken Parm Sandwiches". The Huffington Post. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  14. ^ Pisarro, Marcelo (2012-05-11). "Milanesa napolitana". Clarín (Argentine newspaper) (in Spanish). Buenos Aires, Argentina. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  15. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-14. Retrieved 2017-05-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Peucker, Christie (2011-01-02). "They're the parmi police Duo in quest for Adelaide's best". Sunday Mail. Adelaide, South Australia. p. 20. Archived from the original on 2015-08-15. Retrieved 2014-02-24.
  17. ^ Levin, Darren (2004-08-07). "Keeping abreast of the Parma best". The Age. Melbourne, Victoria. p. A2.2.
  18. ^ Pisarro, Marcelo (2012-05-11). "Milanesa napolitana". Clarín (Argentine newspaper) (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2014-05-17. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  19. ^ "Milanesa a la napolitana". El Reporte (in Spanish). 2013-04-25.
  20. ^ "El origen de la milanesa". ABC Color (in Spanish). 2013-04-13. Archived from the original on 2014-05-17.
  21. ^ Asier, Soren (2012-07-13). "Clásica milanesa napolitana de Argentina". iMujer (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2015-06-18. Retrieved 2014-05-17.
  22. ^ "Milanesa a caballo". Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  23. ^ "Milanesa 'on horseback' with french fries". Retrieved April 12, 2020.
  24. ^ "Teesside's fast food sensation". BBC. 6 November 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2014.