I’ve recently been on a low-carb kick, which has been great for my waistline but less great for my Italian tastebuds. I adore pasta. I mean I could eat pasta every day if that was sustainable. So to satisfy that craving, I whipped up this vegan eggplant parmesan.
Eggplant parmesan is basically like lasagna but with eggplant in place of the noodles. A vegan eggplant parmesan of course can’t contain the usual cheese – so we will use dairy-free vegan cheese instead.
You should be able to find both vegan mozzarella and vegan parmesan at most grocery stores these days. But if your local store isn’t quite that progressive, check out Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.
Let’s cook some vegan eggplant parmesan – yum!
I started off with two big, fresh eggplants. We need to slice the eggplants into rounds so that we can stack them in layers. Many eggplant parm recipes call for peeling the eggplant, but personally I think it gets too mushy that way. But on the other hand, the skins can be tough when cooked. So I recommend a compromise. I half peel my eggplants! Just take a sharp knife and peel the skin off in wide strips, as show in the picture below. This is the perfect balance – you will get tender eggplant slices that don’t fall apart when they are cooked. Plus, the skins contain lots of nutrients that you get to keep this way!
Once you have your eggplant half-peeled, you will slice it into 1/2″ rounds, and lightly cook the eggplant rounds before assembling the layers. I cook them in a single layer in a big frying pan, with just a little bit of olive oil. In all of the eggplant slices don’t fit in your pan, you can cook them in batches.
I made my own tomato sauce for this recipe, but it’s not completely necessary. I love the fresh taste of homemade sauce, and especially love when I can include San Marzano tomatoes. My grocery store has these amazing crushed San Marzano tomatoes in the canned section, and I swear they taste like Italy itself. I cook the tomatoes with a bit of garlic and onion, and let everything simmer and blend together for about 15 minutes.
Before serving the sauce, I add a big dash of balsamic vinegar, which is the secret ingredient! I gives the tomato sauce a slightly sweet, slightly tangy finish. If you are a real tomato sauce lover like me, don’t skimp on the balsamic vinegar. The best balsamic I’ve found outside of Italy is this MiaBella Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, which is made from 100% Trebbiano grapes. (That’s what balsamic vinegar is supposed to be made of, by the way!) But if you don’t feel up to splurging on that, Kirkland Signature makes a pretty decent aged balsamic vinegar, that comes in a huge one liter bottle, so it’s an amazing value.
If you want to speed up the cooking time, store-bought tomato sauce is also perfectly fine.
Putting it all together is the fun part. First, spread a thin layer of tomato sauce in your baking dish. Then alternate layers of the eggplant slices with tomato sauce and vegan mozzarella cheese. Top the whole thing off with dairy-free parmesan, which will give it a nice golden crunchy layer on top.
And then bake it all together in the oven for about 40 minutes. Top it with basil, or any other herbs you desire, as a finishing touch. Ta-dah – vegan eggplant parmesan!
Did you make this? Let us know what you think in the comments!