When I was growing up, my grandma made a killer eggplant parmesan. If I had seen an eggplant as a kid, I don’t think I would have been so eager to eat it, but once covered in cheese and marinara sauce, eggplant certainly didn’t look anything like it does when I buy it in the grocery store. As an adult, however, I learned to appreciate how versatile eggplant is and decided to make grandma’s classic eggplant parmesan into this vegan eggplant parmesan recipe.
EGGPLANT IS ACTUALLY A NIGHTSHADE FRUIT, NOT A VEGETABLE
Throughout my childhood, my grandma used eggplant in a variety of Greek dishes, such as eggplant moussaka and baba ganoush, a greek dip. Later in life, I learned eggplant isn’t even a vegetable at all. In fact, eggplant is a fruit, also called aubergine, a part of the nightshade family.
Eggplant, for example, is a good source of fiber, potassium and vitamin B-1, B-6, and K. Eggplant, uncooked, is quite bitter in taste, however.
SIMPLY SLICE THE EGGPLANT, PLACE IN A COLANDER, AND SALT GENEROUSLY
For that reason, once the eggplant is sliced, it is necessary to sprinkle generously with salt and leave to rest in a sink to bring out the bitterness. As a result, you will see water droplets all over the eggplant. Don’t worry about the salt, though, because the eggplant is rinsed thoroughly before baking.
HOW TO TRANSFORMS EGGPLANT PARMESAN INTO VEGAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN
Traditionally, the eggplant is fried in eggplant parmesan recipes. Instead, my vegan eggplant parmesan is baked, not fried. If you prefer, you can also air-fry the eggplant, which works just as well.
In order to get the crunchy texture for the eggplant, I use a combination of panko bread crumbs and my Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Instead of dipping and dredging in cow’s milk, I use almond milk. And, instead of wheat or white flour, I use gluten-free flour. Again, this is a choice.
Although you can add vegan cheese and melt it, I find this step unnecessary. The Vegan Parmesan Cheese is cheesy enough for me, but feel free to add vegan cheese, if you want it even cheesier.
Adding fried green tomatoes, prepared the same way I prepare the eggplant, adds acidic flavor, which I love. The eggplant, combined with the green tomatoes, fresh marinara sauce, and gluten-free pasta, makes for an incredibly savory dish. And, I am all about savory!
Once the eggplant is coated, I bake both on my Copper Crispr Pan. Similar to using an air fryer, this pan air-fries in the oven.
Choosing to air-fry, though, is an option, as long as you remember to cook the eggplant in batches, with a single layer of eggplant rather than stacking the eggplant.
Also, I chose one of my favorite new gluten-free kinds of pasta, Andean Dream Quinoa Spaghetti. For example, I used this same noodle in my Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe, and I fell in love. The Gluten-free kinds of pasta today are yummy!
In the past, gluten-free pasta, in my opinion, was gummy and disintegrated when cooked. Over time, I think gluten-free products have been perfected, and I am a fan!
Of course, you can use any pasta or spaghetti you wish, so if you can’t find a great gluten-free version, regular whole grain spaghetti works just as well.
WHAT KIND OF PASTA SAUCE IS THE BEST FOR VEGAN EGGPLANT PARMESAN?
Without a doubt, homemade vegan marinara sauce is always the best route. Although I use jarred marinara sauce, often, as a short cut, we all know the homemade version is the best! Because vegan eggplant parmesan does not require a large amount of sauce, I make my marinara ahead of time and freeze the extra for Vegan Lasagna or Vegan Stuffed Shells Recipe.
Food prep, in my opinion, is the key to easy cooking. A batch of vegan marinara sauce, for instance, can be used for a variety of recipes throughout the week without the need to freeze. Or, you can freeze it in small batches to use at will. Either way, vegan eggplant parmesan recipe tastes great with homemade sauce or your favorite store-bought sauce.
Then, when I plate my vegan eggplant parmesan, I start by placing a small amount of sauce in the base of the bowl. Personally, I don’t like my vegan eggplant parmesan floating in sauce, so next, I plate the spaghetti, add tow pieces of eggplant, and one fried green tomato. Next, I top with a little more sauce and then sprinkle with Vegan Parmesan Cheese. Of course, a little vegan garlic bread on the side helps to soak up the extra sauce.
I watched my husband dragging his bread all around the bottom of the plate to get every last bit. At my house, that is a winner dinner!
If you enjoy Italian comfort food but want to eat healthily, vegan eggplant parmesan recipe is the perfect meal. And, if you are a comfort food fan, try these yummy Italian recipes:
- Vegan Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Veggie Stuffed Shells
- Vegan Stuffed Shells Recipe
- Skinny Zucchini Stuffed with Veggies and Tofu Ricotta
- Oil-Free Vegan 20 Minute One-Pot Wonder Pasta