Eggplant parmesan, with its layers of crispy eggplant, rich tomato sauce, and melted cheese, is a beloved dish that offers a symphony of flavors. Yet, the magic of this meal can be further enhanced when paired with the right side dishes. Our curated list below showcases a variety of sides, from fresh salads to hearty breads, that not only complement the main star but also elevate the entire dining experience.
1. Garlic Knots
A Tasty Companion to Parmesan
Garlic knots are the perfect carb-filled side to complement the rich flavors of eggplant parmesan. Made from pizza dough, these knots are brushed with a garlic-infused butter that makes them irresistible.
Suitable for All Occasions
Whether you’re serving eggplant parmesan at a family gathering or a romantic dinner, these garlic knots will fit right in. They’re perfect for soaking up any leftover sauce on your plate.
Make it Special
While the traditional recipe is amazing on its own, you can sprinkle some parmesan or fresh herbs on top for an added touch. The choice is yours!
2. Caesar Salad
A Fresh Contrast
The creamy and crisp Caesar salad offers a refreshing contrast to the warm and cheesy eggplant parmesan. The tangy dressing and crunchy croutons make it a delightful side dish.
Ideal for a Balanced Meal
Adding a Caesar salad to your meal ensures you get a good dose of greens. It’s a perfect way to make your dish both delicious and nutritious.
Customize to Your Liking
Feel free to add ingredients like grilled chicken or anchovies to your salad, or opt for a lighter dressing if you wish.
3. Roasted Broccoli
A Nutritious Sidekick
Roasted to perfection, broccoli becomes crispy on the outside and tender inside. Its natural flavors pair wonderfully with the hearty eggplant parmesan.
Quick and Easy
Roasting broccoli is a breeze. Simply season it, pop it in the oven, and it’s ready in no time, making it an ideal side dish for busy nights.
Make it Yours
Add a sprinkle of parmesan or a squeeze of lemon to elevate the flavors. The options are endless!
4. Italian Bruschetta
A Classic Pair
Bruschetta, with its juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil, offers a fresh bite that goes hand in hand with the richness of eggplant parmesan.
Perfect for Sharing
Serve bruschetta as a starter or side dish. Its vibrant colors and flavors are sure to be a hit at any gathering.
Personalize Your Toppings
While the traditional tomato and basil topping is a classic, feel free to experiment with ingredients like olives, feta, or roasted peppers.
5. Polenta Fries
A Twist on the Traditional
If you’re looking for a side dish that’s a bit different, polenta fries are the answer. They’re crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, making them a delightful companion to eggplant parmesan.
Serve with a Dip
While delicious on their own, you can serve these fries with a marinara or garlic aioli dip to make them even more tantalizing.
Switch It Up
You can add herbs or cheese to the polenta mixture to bring in additional flavors.
6. Sauteed Spinach with Garlic
A Light and Healthy Choice
The subtle bitterness of spinach balanced with the aromatic flavor of garlic makes it a light and healthy side dish to pair with the hearty eggplant parmesan.
Done in Minutes
Sauteing spinach is quick and easy, ensuring you can whip it up even on the busiest of days.
A Touch of Luxury
A sprinkle of red chili flakes or a dash of nutmeg can elevate this simple dish to new culinary heights.
7. Risotto with Lemon and Parsley
A Creamy Delight
Risotto, with its creamy texture and zesty lemon flavor, offers a delightful contrast to the textures of eggplant parmesan.
Worth the Effort
While risotto requires some attention while cooking, the end result is well worth it. It’s creamy, comforting, and full of flavor.
Your Risotto, Your Way
Feel free to add ingredients like saffron, mushrooms, or peas to make the risotto tailored to your preferences.
8. Italian-style Green Beans
A Crunchy Complement
Blanched and then sautéed with garlic and tomatoes, these Italian-style green beans offer a crunchy and flavorful side dish to go alongside your eggplant parmesan.
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Vibrant and Nutritious
Adding green beans to your meal not only brings in a pop of color but also a dose of nutrition.
Add Your Touch
Toss in some toasted almonds or sprinkle with parmesan for an extra layer of flavor.
9. Caprese Salad
Freshness in Every Bite
Juicy tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil drizzled with olive oil make Caprese salad a refreshing side dish to pair with the rich eggplant parmesan.
Simplicity at Its Best
With just a few ingredients, you can have a beautiful and delicious salad ready in minutes.
Experiment with Flavors
Swap traditional tomatoes for cherry tomatoes or add a drizzle of balsamic reduction for a sweet tang.
10. Focaccia Bread
Dive into Italian Flavors
Soft, aromatic, and slightly crispy on the outside, focaccia is the perfect bread to accompany your eggplant parmesan meal.
Ideal for Dipping
The texture of focaccia makes it perfect for dipping into sauces or just enjoying with a bit of olive oil.
Top your focaccia with olives, rosemary, or even caramelized onions to make it unique every time you bake.
11. Orzo Pasta Salad
Mediterranean Flavors Meet Italian Classic
Orzo pasta salad brings together the flavors of the Mediterranean in a light and refreshing side dish that contrasts beautifully with the richness of eggplant parmesan.
A Salad for All Seasons
Whether it’s a hot summer day or a cozy winter evening, this versatile salad fits any occasion.
Make It Your Own
Add feta cheese, Kalamata olives, or roasted red peppers to infuse even more flavor into this delightful side.
12. Roasted Red Peppers
A Sweet and Smoky Delight
Roasted red peppers, with their natural sweetness and smoky flavor, offer a delightful complement to the cheesy goodness of eggplant parmesan.
Simple Yet Impressive
This easy-to-make side dish adds color and elegance to your meal spread.
Enhance the Flavor
Stuff these peppers with goat cheese or sprinkle with fresh herbs for an added touch.
13. Olive Tapenade Crostini
A Bite-sized Wonder
Crispy crostini topped with a rich olive tapenade offers a salty bite that’s perfect alongside the hearty eggplant parmesan.
Perfect for Entertaining
These small bites are great for serving at gatherings, ensuring a burst of flavor in every mouthful.
Variety is Key
Switch up the tapenade with different types of olives or add sun-dried tomatoes for a different taste profile.
14. Grilled Zucchini
A Charred Delight
Lightly seasoned and grilled to perfection, zucchini becomes a smoky and tender side that pairs wonderfully with eggplant parmesan.
Quick and Healthy
Grilling zucchini is both fast and offers a healthy side dish to balance out your meal.
Up the Ante
Add a sprinkle of grated parmesan or a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra flavor kick.
15. Baked Ricotta
Baked until golden and slightly crispy on top, ricotta cheese becomes a creamy wonder that’s hard to resist when served alongside eggplant parmesan.
Impress Your Guests
This elegant side dish looks gourmet but is incredibly simple to prepare.
Personalize Your Flavors
Infuse the ricotta with herbs like rosemary or thyme or add a touch of lemon zest for freshness.
16. Antipasto Platter
A Taste of Italy
An antipasto platter, filled with a variety of cheeses, cured meats, and marinated vegetables, offers a delightful appetizer or side to accompany your main dish.
Great for Sharing
This platter is ideal for communal dining, allowing everyone to pick their favorite bites.
Mix and Match
Choose from olives, artichoke hearts, prosciutto, and more to create your perfect platter.
17. Marinated Artichoke Hearts
A Tangy Treat
With their tender texture and tangy marinade, artichoke hearts offer a delightful contrast to the rich and cheesy eggplant parmesan.
Elevate Your Meal
This simple side dish can instantly add a gourmet touch to your meal spread.
Experiment with Flavors
Try marinating the artichokes in different herbs and spices for a new flavor experience each time.
18. Garlic Parmesan Asparagus
A Flavorful Green
Asparagus spears, roasted with garlic and parmesan, become a savory side dish that perfectly complements the flavors of eggplant parmesan.
Quick to Prepare
This side dish requires minimal prep and is ready in a jiffy.
Add a Twist
Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to enhance its vibrant flavors.
19. Sundried Tomato Pesto Pasta
A Bold Flavor Pairing
The intense flavors of sundried tomatoes blended into a smooth pesto offer a bold counterpart to the eggplant parmesan.
Perfect for Pasta Lovers
Combine this vibrant pesto with your favorite pasta for a side dish that’s sure to please.
Tweak to Your Liking
Add pine nuts, basil, or even some chili flakes to give the pesto your personal touch.
20. Italian Herb Breadsticks
A Crunchy Delight
Homemade breadsticks, infused with Italian herbs, offer a crunchy and flavorful side that’s perfect for dipping and pairing with eggplant parmesan.
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Bake and Enjoy
These breadsticks fill your kitchen with a delightful aroma, making the wait for them to come out of the oven worth every second.
Dip and Dive
Serve them with marinara sauce, olive oil, or even some creamy alfredo for dipping.
21. Balsamic Glazed Carrots
A Sweet and Tangy Bite
Roasted carrots, drizzled with a balsamic reduction, bring a sweet and tangy flavor that contrasts beautifully with the savory eggplant parmesan.
Elevate Your Veggie Game
This side dish offers a gourmet touch to a simple vegetable, making it a standout at any meal.
Add Some Garnish
Top with fresh parsley or toasted sesame seeds for added texture and flavor.
22. Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon
Salty Meets Sweet
The combination of salty prosciutto wrapped around sweet, juicy melon is a refreshing side dish that balances the flavors of eggplant parmesan.
Elegance in Every Bite
This pairing is as visually appealing as it is delicious, making it great for special occasions.
Up the Ante
Consider drizzling with a balsamic glaze or adding a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper to elevate the flavors.
23. Risotto with Mushrooms
Creamy and Earthy
Risotto, with its creamy texture and the earthy flavors of mushrooms, offers a warm, comforting side dish that pairs beautifully with eggplant parmesan.
An Italian Classic
Risotto is a staple in Italian cuisine and offers a luscious, rich texture when prepared with care.
Add Your Twist
Consider adding white wine, truffle oil, or different varieties of mushrooms to enhance its depth of flavor.
24. Grilled Polenta Slices
Golden Corn Delight
Grilled to a crispy exterior and soft on the inside, polenta slices offer a delicious corn-flavored side that complements the flavors of eggplant parmesan.
A Different Carb Option
Polenta provides a break from the usual pasta or bread accompaniments.
Enhance the Flavors
Top with grated cheese, fresh herbs, or even a tomato-based sauce for extra zest.
25. White Bean Salad
A white bean salad, flavored with fresh herbs, olive oil, and a touch of lemon juice, is a protein-rich side that complements the depth of flavors in eggplant parmesan.
Refreshing and Filling
This salad is both light and hearty, making it a balanced addition to your meal.
Personalize Your Salad
Add in cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, or roasted vegetables to give the salad your personal twist.
26. Stuffed Olives
A Salty Treat
Large green olives, stuffed with ingredients like almonds, blue cheese, or garlic, provide a savory bite that contrasts beautifully with the richness of eggplant parmesan.
Perfect as an Appetizer
Serve these before or alongside your main dish for an added flavor burst.
Experiment with Fillings
There’s a wide variety of fillings to choose from, allowing you to change it up every time.
Choosing the right side dish can truly bring out the best in your eggplant parmesan meal. Whether you opt for a light, refreshing salad or a hearty, flavorful bread, these side dishes promise to make your meal memorable. So next time you serve up this Italian classic, consider adding one or more of these sides to round out your culinary masterpiece.