Monday, October 19, 2009
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
My friends, please, come closer. For I must tell you of Sunday night's dinner. Do I sound like I'm being dramatic? Well, if anything deserves drama, it is this Eggplant "Parmesan". Did I know it would turn out to be so freakishly delicious? No I did not. Was I completely winging it through the entire recipe hoping randomly that the end result would be edible? Yes I was. Will I make this for every dinner party from here to eternity? Yes I will.
Seriously, though, we here in Canada have very few options when it comes to the fake cheese. You down there in the fancy United States may not have universal healthcare, but you sure do have one up on us when it comes to vegan cheese, what with your Follow Your Heart and your Teese and your Daiyah or whatever that's called. What I'm saying is that those of us here in the North need to fend for ourselves. Ergo, I replaced the parmesan cheese in this dish with a mixture of roasted cauliflower, tofu, and nutritional yeast. I did this only because we happened to have a rapidly declining head of cauliflower in our fridge. And guess what? It was stupendous. Flavourful and hearty with an excellent texture. I swear. This dish now tops my list of things to cook for anti-vegan naysayers. And I can't believe how little oil I used to make this. It's low fat and crazy-delicious. Take that, naysayers!
Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 block silken tofu (about 1/2 a pound)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup bread crumbs
3 cups tomato sauce (I made a simple sauce from a can of diced tomatoes cooked with onions, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper)
additional salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Liberally sprinkle your eggplant sections with salt and put them in a colander to drain the bitterness out.
While all that draining is happening, toss the cauliflower pieces with two tablespoons of the olive oil and spread them out on a cookie sheet.
Bake cauliflower at 350 for about twenty minutes, shaking them up a bit halfway through. They're done when they are browned and tender.
Rinse eggplant slices and pat dry. Switch oven to "Broil".
Use one more tablespoon of olive oil to grease a cookie sheet and lay all eggplant rounds out as flat as possible. Spread remaining tablespoon of olive oil over tops of eggplant rounds.
Broil eggplant for approximately fifteen minutes, turning slices over halfway through. They are finished when they are browned and soft, but not falling apart.
While eggplant is cooking, combine roasted cauliflower, nutritional yeast, and tofu in a food processor or large bowl.
Pulse or mash cauliflower mixture until it is thick and "cheesy" with no discernible pieces of cauliflower left. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
In a lightly oiled casserole dish, layer half the eggplant, half the bread crumbs, half the tomato sauce, then half the cauliflower mixture. Repeat.
Reduce heat of oven to 350 again and bake, uncovered, for twenty minutes. If you'd like the top to be a bit crunchy and brown, turn the oven up to broil for the last five minutes (or so) of baking time.
-I remember my roommates and I making a dish similar to this when I was in university only we called it "Eggplant Explosion" and we fried all the eggplant slices in oil before baking them. There was also no cauliflower, just a ton of nutritional yeast and tofu. I was always charged with the frying of the eggplant because one of my roommates couldn't stand to watch the amount of oil that it sucked up. In retrospect, yes, it was kind of gross.
-Do you know how many tries it took me to spell "Parmesan" correctly? A lot. A lot of tries.
-We had my friends Megan and Brigid over for dinner on Saturday night and I cooked up a bunch of polenta, tacos, and black bean soup. They made dessert, which I feel the need to tell you about. Picture it: pears, cored, and then stuffed with marzipan and chocolate chips, then wrapped in puff pastry and baked until they were all soft. Very, very tasty. They can come back any time. The guests, not the pears. Well, okay, the pears can come too.