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Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

My fiance has officially made the commitment to going vegan for dinner and I couldn’t be more happy about the decision (made even better, because for once I didn’t feel like I had to pressure someone in my family to eat better!). We’ve been experimenting with recipes to capture the flavors and dishes he holds dear while putting a vegan spin on them. Case in point, eggplant parmesan. This classic is dredged in egg and synonymous with cheese, cheese, and more cheese, but it was surprisingly easy to make a vegan version with Kite Hill Alond cheese and aquafaba. The taste is so craveworthy, that this dinner makes the lineup every few weeks or so.

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 small eggplant, sliced across  (12 slices total)
1/2 cup aquafaba (liquid drained from a can of chickpeas) or 2 eggs whisked (for a vegetarian version)
1 T water
1 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried italian seasoning
½ cup olive oil
pinch salt and pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (your choice, I use Rao’s), warmed on stove
handful basil leaves
Ricotta Filling (or use Kite Hill Ricotta Cheese to save time):
oz soft tofu
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 T lemon juice
1 T finely chopped parsley
½ T salt
½ T pepper
Blend all ingredients togethermix well

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

Slice eggplant lengthwise and lay flat on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for approx.. 20-30 minutes until liquid is drawn out of the eggplant.  As these sit, make the ricotta filling, set aside.

In a medium bowl mix the bread crumbs, pinch of salt and pepper, dried italian seasoning, set aside.  In a second mixing bowl, whisk aquafaba (or eggs for the vegetarian option) and set aside.  When eggplant have water drawn to the surface, pat each one dry with paper towel to absorb moisture.  

Heat ½ cup high heat refined coconut oil or olive in in a large frying pan on medium high.  Piece by piece, dip each eggplant piece into the aquafaba liquid, then dredge into the breadcrumb mixture.  Lay into the hot oil for approx. 2 minutes or browned on each side.  Remove from frying pan and set aside on a baking sheet until ready to assemble. 

When all eggplant is done, start to build your individual eggplant parmesan.  Lay one round of eggplant, spread tofu “ricotta” cheese blend, spread even with sauce, sprinkle with basil, and then top with another eggplant section.  Spread with tofu ricotta blend, then sauce, then top with eggplant section, top with sauce and sprinkle of ricotta, then garnish with a basil leaf.  Repeat this for each of the four individual servings.  Bake for additional 15 minutes until the layers are warmed throughout.  

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