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Eggplant “Parmesan”

Mamma mia! This is vegan, gluten-free Italian GOLD! I’ve been struggling in the pasta department for a while now, especially since going vegan on top of everything else but this… I promise you won’t miss the actual cheese. Don’t let the eggplant scare you off either. I avoided them at all costs because they, for some reason, seem so daunting but after this I’m a huge fan. They are surprisingly easy to work with and you can do sooooo many things with them!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/4 cup GF all purpose flour
  • 1 cup GF panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp vegan parmesan* + more for serving (see bottom of post for recipe for this)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 8 ounces pasta (such as linguini, but any kind will do, including veggie noodles or gluten free)
  • 2 cups marinara sauce

Instructions

  1. Slice eggplant into thin rounds and sprinkle each side with sea salt. Arrange in a circular pattern in a colander and place in the sink to draw out the bitter taste of the eggplant.
  2. Let rest for about 15 minutes and then rinse and place on a clean kitchen towel. Top with another clean dish towel and lay a baking sheet on top. Place something heavy on top, such as a cast iron skillet, to thoroughly dry for at least 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees  and line a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with nonstick spray. Also, if making pasta, bring water to a boil in a large saucepan.
  4. Prepare your dipping stations by placing almond milk and cornstarch in one bowl; flour in another bowl; and bread crumbs, sea salt, oregano, vegan parmesan in another bowl.
  5. Once dry, dip eggplant slices in flour, then almond milk mixture, then breadcrumbs. Arrange on the baking sheet and bake for a total of 20-30 minutes.
  6. While the eggplant is in the oven, bring a large skillet to medium heat. Once hot, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and pull 3-4 eggplant rounds out of the oven at a time and sauté. (This makes them crispier) Cook for ~2 minutes on each side and then return to oven to continue crisping. Do this until all rounds are browned.
  7. While the eggplant is baking, either prepare your favorite marinara sauce or use your favorite jarred sauce.
  8. Once done cooking, drain the pasta.
  9. Plate however you please!

*Vegan Parmesan Cheese: 3/4 cup raw cashews, 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast, 3/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder. Add ingredients to a food processor and pulse until you get a fine meal. That’s it. Store in the refrigerator and this will last for several weeks!

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