Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Vegetarian Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is hearty and delicious. This vegetarian version uses cashew-based “cheese” to replace the typical dairy-based ricotta cheese.  This dish is so flavorful you may find you like this vegetarian eggplant parmesan version better than the traditional recipe.

Serves:  8



  • 3 large eggplant
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 28oz (or 2 14-oz cans) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 cup cashews soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil


  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs (or gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (instead of nutritional yeast)
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • Whole fresh basil leaves
Tomato and Basil
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Brush the eggplant rounds on both sides with 1 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place on a baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes flipping halfway through baking to ensure they brown evenly. NOTE: I tend to flip my rounds more than once to ensure they brown nicely on both sides.
  3. While the eggplant is baking, in a skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add in the diced onion and minced garlic and cook for 4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent. Stir in the chopped canned tomatoes, tomato paste, chili flakes, and balsamic vinegar and leave to simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has begun to thicken.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, in a high-speed blender combine the drained cashews, almond milk, and garlic cloves and blend until smooth.
  5. In a 9X13 sized baking dish start by spooning in a layer of tomato sauce. Evenly place a layer of the baked eggplant rounds over top, followed by another thin layer of the tomato sauce, a layer of the cashew cream, and a sprinkle of chopped basil. Add a second layer of eggplant rounds (be sure to stack each round atop one of the first rounds as it makes it easy to serve as individual servings).  Cover with tomato sauce, cashew cream, and basil. Add a third layer following the same pattern. Cover the top of the dish with tin foil and place it in the oven to bake for 20 minutes.
  6. While the eggplant parmesan is cooking, make the optional topping. In a bowl, add the bread crumbs, parmesan, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
  7. After 20 minutes of baking, remove the tin foil and top the eggplant parmesan with the topping mixture. Return to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes until the top is golden in color and the edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven and add a fresh basil leaf to each stacked round serving.
Chef Amy

Recipe compliments of Home Chef and OPL CMO Amy Bates.

Learn more about Amy.

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Sicilian Caponata Appetizer

Sicilian Caponata Appetizer

This sicilian caponata appetizer is so delicious especially when created from fresh garden vegetables at the end of the growing season.  I like to make extra and freeze it in batches to have as an appetizer throughout the winter when I am really craving the taste of the freshness of summer.  This appetizer can be served hot as a vegetable side dish; or cool to room temperature and served as a relish or on an antipasto/charcuterie tray. Recipe adapted from Italian Cooking Class Cookbook by Beekman House.

Serves:  Makes about 5 cups; 8-10 servings.



  • 1 1/2 pounds (675g) eggplant (about 1 large or 2 small)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) salt
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large stalk celery
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (0.5 to 1ml) dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces or 415g) whole peeled tomatoes or fresh tomatoes with skins removed* (see recipe below for an easy way to remove tomato peels)
  • 1-2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) sugar
  • 8 Italian or Greek style black olives
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) drained capers
Sicilian Caponata Ingredients
  1. Rinse eggplant; cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) cubes.  Place in a large colander; sprinkle with salt and toss.  Let stand and drain in the sink or bowl, tossing occasionally, 1 hour
  2. Rinse eggplant and drain well; squeeze in a clean kitchen towel to extract moisture. Reserve.
  3. Core and seed bell peppers; cut into 3/4 inch (2cm) chunks.  Chop onion coarsely.  Cut celery diagonally into 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick slices.
  4. Heat oil in a 10-inch (25 cm) non-corrosive skillet over medium-high heat.  Add bell peppers, onion, celery, and pepper flakes; sauté 5 minutes.  Add reserved eggplant, cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes longer.  Remove from heat.
  5. Press tomatoes and their liquid through a sieve into vegetables in a skillet;
  6. discard seeds.  Mince garlic; add garlic to skillet.  Stir in vinegar and sugar.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  7. Pit and chop olives.  Add olives and capers to the skillet.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally; until most of the liquid has evaporated and sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

*How to Peel Fresh tomatoes

I like to focus my plant-based eating habits on what is in season and what is grown locally. When I have time at the end of the growing season, I will preserve through canning or freezing the fruits and vegetables that I love the most which I can enjoy in other seasons.  Currently there are so many varieties of tomatoes available. In the recipe provided above, I chose to use freshly peeled tomatoes.  There have been times when I do not peel the tomatoes however; it does make for creamier sauces to take the shortened amount of time to do so.  If you decide to peel the tomatoes and not add them to your compost you can dry them in the oven and then pulse them in a mini food processor for a delicious tomato sprinkle which can be added to your favorite recipes.

Total Prep and Cook time: 11 minutes cook time

Cooking tools required; a cutting board, a large bowl for cut tomatoes, a large bowl of ice water, and 3-6 quart pot for processing the tomatoes.


  1. Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil while you prepare the tomatoes.
  2. Turn tomatoes over to the bottom and, using a paring knife, cut a shallow X in the bottom of each tomato. Core tomatoes, if you like.
  3. Carefully lower tomatoes into the boiling water, in batches. Remove after about 30 seconds, once skins start to crack.  Be careful to not boil too long, otherwise the tomatoes will start to cook and get too soft to handle easily.
  4. Immediately put tomatoes into the bowl of ice water.  Heating and then shocking the tomatoes in this way makes the skins peel right off!
  5. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel skins from tomatoes and use in your favorite recipe.
Chef Yvonne Dwyer

Recipe compliments of OPL Naturalist and Home Chef Yvonne Dwyer

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

Neely’s Meadow Apple Pie

Neely’s Meadow Apple Pie

It’s Fall! And what a wonderful time to enjoy fresh-picked apples! In our mountain neighborhood the Neely’s have a beautiful meadow full of apple trees. During our afternoon walk we can’t help stopping in to gather a few juicy apples. Having gathered a bit more than a few, it just seemed like a perfect time for homemade apple pie. (This recipe is adapted from Food Network.)

Serves: 8



For Dough:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

14 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1 large egg, lightly beaten with 2 tablespoons cold water


For Filling:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 pounds baking apples, we used ones we picked in Neely’s meadow

2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Generous pinch of ground nutmeg

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Basket of Apples
  1. (Note: we use the store-bought pie pastry rounds) Make the dough by hand. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles yellow corn meal mixed with bean-sized bits of butter. (If the flour/butter mixture gets warm, refrigerate it for 10 minutes before proceeding.) Add the egg and stir the dough together with a fork or by hand in the bowl. If the dough is dry, sprinkle up to a tablespoon more of cold water over the mixture.
  2. Make the dough in a food processor. With the machine fitted with the metal blade, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt until combined. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles yellow cornmeal mixed with bean size bits of butter, about 10 times. Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times; don’t let the dough form into a ball in the machine. (If the dough is very dry add up to a tablespoon more of cold water.) Remove the bowl from the machine, remove the blade, and bring the dough together by hand.
  3. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour.
  4. Make the filling. Put the lemon juice in a medium bowl. Peel, halve, and core the apples. Cut each half into 4 wedges. Toss the apple with the lemon juice. Add the sugar and toss to combine evenly.
  5. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the apples, and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until the apples soften and release most of their juices, about 7 minutes.
  6. Strain the apples in a colander over a medium bowl to catch all the juice. Shake the colander to get as much liquid as possible. Return the juices to the skillet, and simmer over medium heat until thickened and lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes.
  7. In a medium bowl, toss the apples with the reduced juice and spices. Set aside to cool completely. (This filling can be made up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated or frozen for up to 6 months.)
  8. Cut the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Layer the dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
  9. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  10. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Put the apple filling in the pan and mound it slightly in the center. Brush the top edges of the dough with the egg. Place the second disc of dough over the top. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired. Brush the surface of the dough with egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
  11. Bake the pie on a baking sheet until the crust is golden, about 50 minutes. Cool on a rack before serving. The pie keeps well at room temperature (covered) for 24 hours, or refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Cook’s Note

You may freeze the uncooked pie, but don’t brush it with egg or dust it with sugar beforehand. Place the pie in the freezer for 30 minutes, to harden it slightly, and then double wrap it with plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 6 months. When ready to bake, unwrap the pie and brush it with egg and sprinkle it with sugar. Bake, from the frozen state, until golden brown, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Chef Harriet Cook

OPL Good Life Analyst Harriet Cook shares a favorite recipe.

Learn more about Harriet.

OPL Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.

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