Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana | www.kitchenconfidante.com | Put the breadcrumbs aside - quinoa adds a healthy, crunchy twist to a classic!

Things sure have changed.

One of my daughter’s friends was over the other afternoon, and as they munched on snacks and smoothies at the kitchen table, the chatter turned to their allowance. I was relieved to hear that I’m not the only parent who forgets to dole out the cash each week; instead, the kids keep a running tab of the amount earned and deduct as necessary. Listening to them chat about their “earnings” made me laugh.

“Do you guys have any idea how much allowance I earned when I was your age?” I challenged them.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana | www.kitchenconfidante.com

After a round of bad guesses, I told them. “Twenty-five cents! A day! You guys are so lucky!”

But then I remembered: back in my day (how’s that for sounding ancient?), you could actually get something for a quarter. A penny, even! I found myself reminiscing about how I would make a detour to the candy shop on the way home from school, where my favorite treat would be Swedish Fish, one for a penny. Ten cents could buy you enough to last the whole walk home.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana | www.kitchenconfidante.com

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana | www.kitchenconfidante.com

A few blocks away from the candy shop, there was a pizzeria, and every so often we’d get a pie, or my dad’s favorite, veal parm heros. Crispy cuts of meat, crunchy from golden breadcrumbs and smothered in mozzarella, delicious bites of marinara soaked bread – I can see why this was my dad’s favorite.

Years later, I married my husband, and chicken parmigiana was his favorite dinner. It makes the rotation as often as possible (he would argue not nearly enough). And when we’re feeling like a change, eggplant parmigiana enters the rotation, as well.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana | www.kitchenconfidante.com

My husband brought home some beautiful eggplants the other day, his way of asking for eggplant parm. This time, however, I wanted to try something a little different. Instead of the traditional breading, I took golden quinoa, fluffy and speckled with garlic and flecks of parsley, and patted it onto the rounds of eggplant. When the eggplant hit the skillet, they crisped, like popped rice, leaving me with a crunch that rivaled panko. My husband and I agreed: the texture of the breading was better! And healthier, too.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have guessed that he’d be eating quinoa, let alone Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana.

Things sure have changed.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmesan | www.kitchenconfidante.com

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Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana

Yield: Serves 4

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

This is a healthier twist on using breadcrumbs in a parmigiana - the quinoa crust gives each bite that crunch you hope for, but with extra nutrients!


1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 large eggplant, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds (you should have about 10 pieces)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs, beaten
15 oz marinara sauce
olive oil
8 oz mozzarella cheese, cut in 1/4 inch thick rounds
Fresh basil, chopped, for garnish


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large bowl, soak the sliced eggplant in salted water for about 20 minutes. It helps to put a bowl on top of the eggplant slices to keep them submerged under water.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes. Cover and let the quinoa sit for 5 minutes more. The water should be full absorbed.

Stir in the garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, and adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in the parmesan cheese and place in a shallow bowl.

Rinse the salted eggplant under cool running water and dry the slices wtih paper towels.

Dredge a slice of eggplant in flour, then dip into the egg, followed by the quinoa, patting the quinoa to help it adhere to the eggplant surface. Continue until all the eggplant is ready.

Pour enough marinara sauce to cover the bottom of a baking dish. Set remainder aside.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and test the oil by dropping it a few pieces of quinoa. When it browns and crisps, go ahead and begin frying the eggplant on both sides, working in batches. Place the crisp eggplant on the marinara sauce in the baking dish, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each round.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with basil and additional parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Quinoa crust inspired by and adapted from Quinoa-Crumbed Lamb, by Donna Hay.

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by Liren Baker on March 12, 2014

25 Responses to “Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana”

  1. marcie March 13, 2014 @ 6:52 am (#

    This dish is so creative and looks so delicious, Liren! I love experimenting with grains, and this sounds perfect. :)

  2. Flavia March 13, 2014 @ 9:09 am (#

    What a fantastic twist on an Italian classic recipe, Liren! I love quinoa, but never thought to use it as a breading. Eggplant Parmigiana is one of my favorite things to eat. I’m going to have to try this out. Bravissima!

  3. Carol at Wild Goose Tea March 13, 2014 @ 12:25 pm (#

    I am with Flavia on this one—-what a wonderful twist on one of my FAVORITE dishes. This is the dish that my darling daughter in law fixes me for my birthday. I will have to clue her in on this version. Plus since my birthday isn’t until October, I guess I will be ‘forced’ to have to try it before then. Oh dear, I say with my tongue in my cheek. Quinoa is definitely a rising star in the food world. It’s amazing how often you see it in restaurants.

  4. Meg Sylvia March 13, 2014 @ 1:43 pm (#

    My goodness this looks incredible. Eggplant Parm is one of my favorites, but this looks like such a fresh update! In fact, I have an eggplant in the fridge right now… this may be getting made tonight! :)

  5. Alanna March 14, 2014 @ 12:01 am (#

    Genius! And so pretty. I can’t wait to make this – thank you for sharing!

  6. Meredith March 14, 2014 @ 1:40 pm (#

    Over the top amazing!

  7. Laura (Tutti Dolci) March 15, 2014 @ 5:33 pm (#

    Gorgeous Liren, love the quinoa crust!

  8. Rebecca March 16, 2014 @ 2:50 pm (#

    And pinned ;) This I have to try!!!
    Thanks, rebecca

  9. The Hungry Mum March 16, 2014 @ 8:11 pm (#

    a few of my favourite things! Pinning :)

  10. Alice // Hip Foodie Mom March 16, 2014 @ 8:17 pm (#

    My oldest is 6, soon to be 7 and we don’t give her an allowance. what’s the right age to start? I should probably have her do more chores around the house. . I guess that’s when the allowance giving can begin? OK, this dish . . where do I begin?! It’s so beautiful!!!
    I love eggplant. And I love that your husband loves eggplant and was the one who brought it home! If my husband ever brought home eggplant and asked me to make something, I think I would faint. :) He is a meat and potatoes guy and frowns when I make vegetarian dishes. I do it because it’s good for him (and I love it). I’m so intrigued by the quinoa!! great idea! I must try this soon!!!

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  13. Gail @ 2Create in Color March 17, 2014 @ 2:49 pm (#

    I *just* got an eggplant in my produce box and was wanting to do something new with it! Thanks!

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  15. Des @ Life's Ambrosia March 18, 2014 @ 1:49 pm (#

    This is genius! Pure genius. I cannot wait to give it a try.

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  22. ann June 1, 2015 @ 4:37 pm (#

    How many slices do you get from your eggplant?  I don’t know if mine was too large or not, but I ran out of the quinoa mixture and had more than half of the eggplant left.  It was all very delicious though! 

    • Liren Baker replied: — June 2nd, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

      Hi Ann, I’m so glad you made the eggplant parm! The size of the eggplant really does make a difference, and I usually get between 6-9 slices. I hope that helps!

  23. ann June 2, 2015 @ 4:09 pm (#


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