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.
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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.
- 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.
- While the sauce is simmering, in a high-speed blender combine the drained cashews, almond milk, and garlic cloves and blend until smooth.
- 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.
- While the eggplant parmesan is cooking, make the optional topping. In a bowl, add the bread crumbs, parmesan, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
- 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.