Lightly breaded eggplant is smothered between layers of vegan cheese sauce and tomato sauce in this soy-free vegan eggplant Parmesan.
In mid-September, My husband D and I joined a local CSA that will be delivering a big box of vegetables to us every Thursday for the next 3 months. Because it’s still warm here in Mississippi, summer crops are still pouring in, so every week the box has been full of zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant. We try to finish up the bounty from one box before the next one arrives, but we aren’t always successful. The veggies have made their way into stir-fries, fajitas, and spaghetti sauce and have been pan-fried and roasted in half a dozen ways, and frankly we’re both in danger of losing our taste for the summer squashes, in particular. And you know I love eggplant (it has its own category on this blog, with 49–no make that 50–recipes) but there are limits to how often even I want to eat it.
But we have to eat it. It would be wasteful not to (and our cats won’t!) and I’m not really fond of frozen squash, so I’ve been resisting freezing it for future use. As for the eggplant, I had been making a lot of baba ganoush and re-making some of my old favorites, such as this incredible Eggplant Paprikas, when D asked me to try using the Oven-Fried Eggplant that he loves in a vegan eggplant parmesan. Well, I already have a great eggplant parmesan recipe that doesn’t call for battering the eggplant, so I decided to adapt it a little and, while I was at it, make it gluten-free and soy-free to boot.
We loved it! I used white beans to make a sauce that adds just a touch of creaminess, and I replaced the homemade tomato sauce in the original recipe with a jarred sauce to save time. It was still quite a production–the breading of the eggplant means added steps and dishes to clean up–and it’s not a recipe you should attempt if you’re short on time. For a much simpler version, see the notes in the recipe below.
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds)
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/4 cup brown rice flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt (if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ounce raw cashews (about 1/4 cup)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 slice bread (gluten-free or whole grain)
- 1/2 cup cooked great northern beans, well-drained
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk)
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon corn starch or potato starch
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (if desired)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 generous pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups oil-free spaghetti sauce (packaged or from this recipe)
- fresh basil leaves, chopped
- Peel the eggplant and trim off the ends. Slice it into rounds about 1/2-inch thick. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cornmeal, brown rice flour, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, and black pepper. Add the almond milk and lemon juice and stir until smooth. You should have a batter a little thicker than pancake batter. If it seems dry, add a splash of non-dairy milk; if it's too liquidy, add more flour.
- Dip each eggplant slice into the batter and turn it to coat both sides and edges well. Holding the slice between two fingers, allow any excess batter to drip back into the bowl, and place the eggplant on the baking sheet. Repeat with as many slices as you can fit on the baking sheet, being careful that they do not touch. (If your baking sheet is small, you may need to make two batches; batter can thicken between batches, so add more liquid if necessary.)
- Place in the oven. After 20 minutes, remove and gently turn each slice–you may have to hold the parchment paper and peel it from the eggplant. Replace and cook until outsides are brown but not burning, about 15 more minutes.
- While the eggplant is baking, make the cashew parmesan and the sauce: Place the cashews in the food processor along with the nutritional yeast and process until finely ground. Remove half to a small bowl and set aside. Add the bread to the cashews remaining in the processor and pulse until crumbled.
- Place all sauce ingredients in blender and blend at high speed until completely smooth. Blend again briefly just before using.
- When the eggplant is done, assemble the casserole: Reduce the oven temperature to 350F. Oil an 8x8-inch or similar sized casserole dish. Place half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the dish. Spoon half the tomato sauce and pour half the cheese sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle lightly with cashew parmesan (the bowl without the bread crumbs). Repeat the process with the remaining eggplant, spaghetti sauce, and cheese sauce and sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, until slightly browned. Sprinkle with fresh basil just before serving.
Exact nutritional content will vary depending on the type of spaghetti sauce and other ingredients you use.
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