Happy long weekend everyone! If you're still looking for a vegan recipe for Easter weekend or just want to make something for a special occasion, Vegan Eggplant Parmesan is a great option. Though this recipe is a bit more time consuming then my regular day-to-day options, with three different types of vegan cheese, it's worth it. The recipe uses oven baking, making it lighter then your typical Eggplant Parmesan, which generally involves breading and frying the eggplant. With the baked Vegan "Parmesan" and "Mozzarella" topping, this dish still delivers the sauce-soaked crispy texture you'd expect, without the heavy aftertaste. I cheated and used store bought sauce to save time, but if you really want to take it to the next level, you can make your own. To make a truly decadent dish, triple the Cashew "Mozzarella" recipe and use it in place of half or all of the Tofu Filling. I would however still include the fresh basil.
I also used a side-stacked format, allowing for a delicious "cheese" filled center and making for easy knife-free serving. You can literally just scoop it out of the casserole dish and onto a plate for a fabulous presentation. Serve with a garnish of Vegan Parmesan and a side of salad, and it's good to go.
This recipe also involved some pretty extensive vegan cheese experimentation. I actually googled "best" vegan cheese recipes and then made a bunch in my own test kitchen using the dog and partner as non-blinded subjects. The poor dog was already a picky eater, and decidedly not enthused about these "rewards", but I got another good cheese recipe out of it, so keep your eyes open for my vegan cheese review. If you decide to do your own cheese experiment, my advice would be to keep it simple, and stay away from anything that uses a thickener as it's main base...
- 1/2 c raw cashews (soak in water 3-4 hrs)
- 2 Tbsp Lemon juice
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond-coconut mix)
- 1/2-3/4 tsp salt (yes that's a lot!)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) (optional)
- 1 block firm tofu
- 1/4 c raw cashews
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
- 1/3 c of basil leaves, lightly packed
- 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes (what's this?)
- 2 pinches salt
- 2 tsp garlic EVOO
- 2 medium Eggplants, peeled and sliced
- 1 container of your favourite tomato sauce (I used Classico Sundried Tomato, you could also make your own)
Optional Vegan Parmesan Garnish:
- 2 tbsp Walnut pieces
- 4 tbsp Nutritional yeast
Make the Cashew Mozzarella:
- Place soaked raw cashews and other ingredients into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour contents of food processor into a cheese cloth and squeeze out excess water. Place a strainer inside a large bowl and then put cheese, still in its cloth, inside the strainer. Place a weight on the cheese to encourage even more water to come out. If you're confused about any of this, you can watch the video above or here.
- Allow to sit while you prepare rest of ingredients. This step can be done one day ahead, if you like.
- Wash, peel and slice the eggplants into 0.5 cm thick slices. You can leave the skin, if you don't mind the texture, though I do find it better without.
- Place a piece of paper towel onto a plate and layer the eggplant on top, separating the layers using additional sheets as required. Cook in microwave for 7 minutes, you may need to split into two batches.
Prepare Tofu Filling:
- While the eggplant is cooking, place all of the ingredients for the tofu filling into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.
- Place in a bowl.
Assemble the Eggplant Parmesan:
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Make a station with eggplant, tomato sauce and the tofu filling. Grab a round casserole dish.
- First cover the bottom of your dish with tomato sauce. Next, make individual stacks by holding a slice of eggplant in one hand and then using a spoon to layer on a tbsp of tomato sauce, followed by a tbsp of tofu filling. Repeat this pattern: eggplant, sauce, tofu filling, until your stack is 3-5 cm high. Place it against the side of your casserole dish, so that the edges of the eggplant face down and run perpendicular to the wall of your dish. You will continue placing the stacks around the edge, to make a donut-type shape. Check out the video below, if you're unsure what I mean.
- Fill the hole in the center with the remaining tofu filling and half of the cashew cheese.
- Pour any remaining sauce over top of the casserole and sprinkle with remaining cashew cheese.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, until browned on top and liquid is mostly absorbed.
- If using the walnut-nutritional yeast Parmesan, place 2 Tbsp walnuts and 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast in ziploc bag and crush using a glass. Sprinkle on top of the Eggplant Parmesan during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Serve and Enjoy!
Did you try my recipe? Comment below or snap a photo and tag me @speedy.vegan.kitchen on instagram, I'd love to see your results!
Coming soon to the blog:
No-Hassle Spicy Vegan Caesar
Vegan Cheese Experiment/Round-up
Healthy Vegan Carrot Cake