Fried Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Melanzane fritte al pomodoro)

Fried eggplants in tomato sauce, spread on slices of bread
Fried eggplants in tomato sauce, used as a spread on slices of bread.

The Spruce / Danette St. Onge

  • Total: 35 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
1109 Calories
115g Fat
21g Carbs
4g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 1109
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 115g 148%
Saturated Fat 16g 80%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 52mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 21g 8%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Protein 4g
Calcium 80mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This simple dish, melanzane fritte al pomodoro, tastes surprisingly rich and complex, and the results are so versatile: You can use it as a pasta sauce, as a side dish to a meaty main, or eat it spread on slices of hearty, crusty bread. It can be served at room temperature as well, as a dip or side dish, so it's a great dish to bring along on a picnic, served on crostini as a party finger-food, or to bring to a potluck. It also just happens to be both vegetarian and vegan, so it's accessible to many diets and lifestyles.

If you have an abundance of eggplant to use up, you could make a big batch of this and can or freeze the excess so you can continue to enjoy summer's bounty during the colder months. 

There is a very similar dish in Turkey, quite popular during the summer months, called "patlıcan kızartma" or "patlıcan kızartması", which is served in either a simple tomato sauce, like the one shown here or with a garlic-yogurt sauce (or sometimes both).


  • 1 to 2 cups olive oil (for frying)
  • 3 eggplants (trimmed and cut into 1/3-inch-thick rounds or lengthwise slices)
  • For the Tomato Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 to 4 cloves of garlic (peeled and finely minced)
  • 4 to 6 large tomatoes (diced, or 2 cans of diced tomatoes, briefly whirred in a blender, or with a handheld immersion blender, to form a chunky sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • Dash fine sea salt (to taste)
  • Dash freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

Steps to Make It

Fry the Eggplants:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. After you have trimmed and sliced the eggplant, heat the frying oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or high-sided skillet.

  3. Fry the slices in batches, to avoid crowding, until golden brown on both sides, turning occasionally with tongs or wooden chopsticks to help them brown evenly.

  4. As the eggplant slices are done, remove them with a slotted spoon or wire-mesh skimmer to drain on a ​paper-towel-lined plate.

Make the Sauce:

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat, just until fragrant and starting to color, but not browned, about 1 minute.

  3. Add the diced fresh tomatoes (or slightly pureed canned diced tomatoes), the sugar, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

  4. Cover, lower the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have broken down and the sauce is flavorful and a bit thickened.


    If the sauce seems too watery, you can add some tomato paste (doppio concentrato di pomodoro) as needed, and/or continue cooking it down a bit.

  5. Depending on how you will be using the eggplant, you can either serve the fried slices on a plate topped with the tomato sauce or mix them together to form a spread, dip or pasta sauce. 

  6. Enjoy!