My mom is here from NJ and we have a love for eggplant parm. You know, the greasy kind you get from the Italian pizza joints around New York City. Well for one thing, its really bad for you, and for another, they just don’t make that kind of thing out here in Washington. I knew it would be a great dish to show my mom that vegan cooking can be just as good, if not better, then the real thing.
This dish is made without oil by baking the eggplant instead of frying. Since eggplant acts like a sponge, when you deep fry it you are pretty much eating pure oil, not to mention you’ve almost certainly cooked out all the nutrients.
Eggplant is in the nightshade family, so if you’re sensitive to things like that, this isn’t the dish for you. However, eggplants have nasunin, which is an powerful antioxidant that protects the lipids (fats) in the brain from free radicals. Nasunin also is an iron celator. This means that it removes excess iron from our bodies. Too much iron is not a good thing. Excess iron increases free radical production and is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer. Women and men who have gone through menopause (and andropause in the males case) tend to have a build up of iron and should include Eggplants in their diet.
Vegan Gluten Free Eggplant Parm:
- Vegan Gluten Free panko Bread crumbs (This is a good brand)
- Plain Organic Almond milk
- 1 Eggplant
- 4 tbsp Vegatble broth
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cans tomato sauce
- 1/2 can tomato paste
- 2 tbsp Oregan
- 2 tbsp Thyme
- 2 tbsp Basil
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1/3 cup cashew cream (recipe here) (you could use almond milk but don’t add too much because you don’t want it to get runny)
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese
- Nutritional Yeast
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the eggplant into long thin slices. Let it sit in the almond milk, enough to cover, about 2 minutes. Coat the slices in the panko breadcrumbs and then place them on a cookie sheet covered with oven parchment paper so it doesn’t stick. Cook it about 20-25 minutes until the eggplant is soft but not overcooked.
Meanwhile, cook the onions in the vegetable broth in a saucepan, covered, 2 minutes. Uncover, add the garlic, and spices and cook another minute. Add the sauce and the tomato paste and let it simmer about 10 minutes. When its all done blend it up in a food processor so its nice and smooth.
Mash up the Tofu with a fork until its the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the cashew cream a little at a time, you might not need a whole 1/3 cup if you want it thicker. Add the nutritional yeast and the salt.
In a baking pan, put the sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Just a thin layer. Lay down 1 layer of eggplant, then the ricotta cheese, then sauce. Next layer is Eggplant, Sauce, Daiya vegan cheese, then a light sprinkling of nutritional yeast. Put it back in the oven about 15 minutes.
I had leftover “ricotta” and sauce, which i’m going to make baked pasta out of. This dish was really good and my mom said it tasted just like the real thing. Again, the daiya cheese is NOT a health food, and it should be reserved for special dishes or when you are really craving something that melts. I hope you try this dish though, it is really very good and I’m really proud of myself for coming up with something that so closely fits my favorite dish from back home!