Many of us have eaten eggplant parmesan even before thinking about becoming vegetarian, so this is an easy dish to have during your transition!
This was the first new recipe I tried when my family made the decision to become vegetarian about six months ago. The idea to try this recipe all came out of an invitation to dinner by some good friends of ours. They had invited us over one Saturday to have steak and crab legs until I dropped the vegetarian bomb on them! I then found out that the husband had been vegetarian for many years and they were thrilled to have the perfect opportunity to make his famous eggplant parmesan!
I was thrilled that they would alter the entire menu for us yet I was a bit skeptical since I hadn’t tried eggplant parmesan before. I hadn’t tried eggplant anything before! But, with this big change in eating habit comes new adventures and I was ready for one.
Well, their recipe was out of this world. I went straight home and researched ways to make it into a vegan dish since my husband has gone all the way to vegan, meaning he doesn’t eat any animal products at all. So, in the recipes that call for eggs, milk or cheese, I have to make other arrangements!
I’ve succeeded in my pursuit and here is the recipe that my family has grown to love. At least the adults do, the kid’s are still deciding. I think it has something to do with the texture of eggplant. For those who care, this dish can be made both vegetarian and as a vegan dish if you are careful with your choice of “cheese”.
¾ cup Parmesan cheese (or Vegan Parmesan)
1/3 cup whole grain bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. fine sea salt
¾ tsp. pepper
½ cup milk (or soy, rice or almond milk)
Refined coconut oil
1 ½ cups marinara sauce
(I used Amy’s Premium Pasta Sauce)
Fresh basil leaves
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese (or Vegan Mozzarella)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash eggplant and cut crosswise into ½ inch slices.
2. In a small bowl, blend parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper. In a second bowl put the milk.
3. Add enough coconut oil to a 10 to 12” pan to coat with a thin layer. Heat on medium.
4. Set up an assembly line starting with the slices of eggplant, then the milk, next the cheese and bread crumb mixture followed by the hot oil in the pan. This will keep you on track and eliminate some of the mess.
5. Start by dipping each slice of eggplant into the milk to coat it on both sides.
6. Next coat the eggplant with the cheese and bread crumb mixture making sure both sides are completely covered.
7. Add the eggplant to the hot oil fitting in as many as you can. Cook about 3 minutes on each side or until the slices are browned on the outside and tender on the inside. Obviously, you will have to do more than one batch and it’s best to wipe out the pan between batches and add new oil.
8. While the next batch is cooking, start creating the layers in a casserole. Place the finished eggplant slices on the bottom, overlapping to cover as best you can.
9. Follow with a coating of your favorite marinara sauce. Notice I am spooning it out of the jar. I used the whole jar the first time and it was more than was really needed in the recipe!
10. Follow by sprinkling on half of the mozzarella cheese and basil leaves.
11. When the next batch of eggplant is cooked, continue on with the second and final layer. Once everything has been added and spread evenly, bake for about 20 minutes or until the sauce is hot and the cheese is melted!
Of course this is a great dish to serve whether you are vegetarian or not. Add a big side salad and your favorite wine and it’s a meal worth sharing with friends!