Quinoa crusted eggplant parmesan stacked in a black dish with marinara sauce.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana

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

Quinoa crusted eggplant parmesan stacked in a black dish with marinara sauce.
Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana

Ditch the breadcrumbs in this twist on eggplant parmigiana! The quinoa gives each bite a delicious crunch in a healthy eggplant parmesan!

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana in a black dish.

Note: This post first appeared on March 12, 2014. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.

A few blocks away from my childhood home in New York, 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, smothered in mozzarella, and 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.

Sliced eggplant for Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana on a wooden cutting board.

My husband brought home some beautiful eggplants the other day, his way of asking for eggplant parmesan. 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.

It’s a change I wholeheartedly embrace, and I’m willing to bet you will love this twist on a classic eggplant parmesan, too.

HOW TO MAKE EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA

It’s amazing how one small swap can make a big difference when making eggplant parmesan! Rather than using breadcrumbs, using cooked quinoa makes this dish gluten-free and low carb! 

How to Make Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana, step by step.

I include instructions for how to cook quinoa (which, luckily takes 15 minutes or less), but if you happen to have leftover cooked quinoa or store-bought frozen quinoa, this saves you a step!

How to Make Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana, step by step.

While the recipe instructions fries the eggplant, you can also bake the eggplant or use an air fryer to crisp up the rounds of eggplant. I include how in the recipe notes  below.

How to Make Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana, step by step.

MORE EGGPLANT RECIPES TO TRY

Skillet Eggplant Lasagna

Stuffed Eggplant with Meat and Tahini

Roasted Eggplant, Tomato and Pesto Mini Naan

Eggplant Rollatini with Pancetta and Spinach

Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant and Peppers

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana in a large dish, topped with mozzarella cheese in a large baking dish on a wooden table.

Note: This post first appeared on March 12, 2014. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.

Quinoa Crusted Eggplant Parmigiana

This is a healthier twist on using breadcrumbs in an eggplant parmigiana – the quinoa crust gives each bite that crunch you hope for, but with extra nutrients for a healthy eggplant parmesan!
Quinoa crusted eggplant parmesan stacked in a black dish with marinara sauce.
Print This Pin This
5 from 1 vote
Course Dinner
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 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 8-10 pieces)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 15 oz marinara sauce
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese cut in 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • Fresh basil chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F with a rack placed in the center of the oven.
  • 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.

Notes

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

QUINOA CRUSTED EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA TIPS

Don't feel like frying? Here's how to prepare the eggplant either by baking or in the air fryer:
HOW TO BAKE EGGPLANT:
Add about 2 teaspoons olive oil to the quinoa mixture. Dredge the eggplant in flour, dip in the egg wash, and coat on both sides with the quinoa, using your fingers to help it adhere to the eggplant. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 425°F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the quinoa crust is golden. Proceed with remaining steps in the recipe.
HOW TO AIR FRY EGGPLANT:
Add about 2 teaspoons olive oil to the quinoa mixture. Dredge the eggplant in flour, dip in the egg wash, and coat on both sides with the quinoa, using your fingers to help it adhere to the eggplant. Place in the basket of the air fryer and cook in the preheated air fryer at 375°F  for about 8-10 minutes, or until the quinoa crust is golden. Proceed with remaining steps in the recipe.
Make ahead tips:
  • Use store-bought pre-cooked quinoa (Trader Joe's has frozen cooked quinoa) or leftover quinoa.
  • Prep the eggplant in advance - you can fry the eggplant and assemble the dish the day before baking.
Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see! Tag @kitchconfidante on Instagram and hashtag it #kitchenconfidante

Comments

Recipe Rating




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  1. Sabrina

    5 stars
    what a wonderful way to add a crisp to the eggplant! Would never have guessed that quinoa would work as a crust, so thank you and for the recipe!

    Reply
  2. ann

    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! 

    Reply
    • Liren Baker

      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!

      Reply
  3. Alice // Hip Foodie Mom

    Liren,
    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!!!

    Reply
  4. Meg Sylvia

    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! :)

    Reply
  5. Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    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.

    Reply
  6. Flavia

    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!

    Reply
  7. marcie

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

    Reply
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