Vegan Eggplant Parmesan! (or, what the heck do you do with eggplant?)
I will admit, eggplant is not my thing.
I find it extremely odd- suggestively shaped, mushy textured, and daunting to prepare. But this humble little nightshade is very popular, and I’ve gotten many requests from cooking class students to teach recipes featuring eggplant. Last month we finally did an eggplant class- and two of the recipes were a great success (the third recipe, for Vegan Mousakka, was not-so-great). Today we’re featuring a recipe from that class- a classic Eggplant Parmesan, which uses the classic round eggplant and can easily be made vegan. Tomorrow we’ll share our recipe for Thai-Style Green Curry with Eggplant, which uses the Asian/Japanese variety or eggplant.
1 large round eggplant, sliced into ½-inch rounds
Sea salt as needed
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
¾ cup brown rice flour
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon each oregano, basil, and dried parsley
Olive oil spray
6-8 slices cheese or vegan cheese (optional)
Pasta sauce of your choice, warmed
4 cups thinly sliced fresh spinach
16-ounce pasta of choice, cooked according to directions
- Layer eggplant onto baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice generously with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Wipe off salt and pat eggplant with a towel to dry (see photos below- salted and then sweating!).
- Preheat oven to 450º and a line baking sheet with parchment.
- Add breadcrumbs, oregano, basil, and parsley to a bowl.
- In another bowl whisk together almond milk, rice flour, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper together to make a creamy batter.
- Dredge each slice of eggplant in batter and then into breadcrumbs to coat each side (Tip: use one hand for wet and one for dry). Place on prepared baking sheet.
- Spray eggplant lightly with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; flip each piece and spray again with olive oil. Bake another 15 minutes. If using, add cheese in last five minutes of cooking. Finished eggplant will be firm to the touch and breading will be golden brown and crispy.
- Toss warm pasta with spinach and sauce. Divide evenly between plates. Top with baked eggplant. Enjoy!
Yield: 6-8 servings
Notes: Eggplant is part of the nightshade family, which may negatively affect our health. The nightshade family includes tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and other toxic plants like tobacco and belladonna, all of which contain relatively high amounts of oxalates and alkaloids. There is anecdotal evidence that nightshades can cause joint problems and lead to kidney and gallstones. If you suffer from these conditions, consider avoiding nightshades for some time to see if conditions improve. For more information, please see the articles found here, here, and here.