Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Favorite Made Vegan: Eggplant Parmesan!

When I was just a wee one, my dad, who is half Italian, taught me how to make Eggplant Parmesan. In most Italian households, this staple dish is made without a written recipe, but instead is learned from grandparents and parents and aunts by watching and helping in the kitchen. Every family has their little special tricks and secrets to make it come out just right.

When The Man and I first started dating, he told me how much he loved some good eggplant parm. I tried to impress him by cooking my old family recipe for him, and I'm pretty sure that's when he fell in love with me. (ok, maybe it wasn't ~just~ that... but I think it helped!) Now that we've moved away from eating animal products, I needed to find a way to make my old recipe work without eggs or dairy. It took a bit of experimenting, but I am VERY happy with the results. 

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

1 large or 2 small, firm eggplants
1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tbsp chia seeds, ground up (I used my Nutri-bullet for this, but any spice grinder would do... you could even use a coffer grinder)
2 cups of all-natural Italian-style bread crumbs
Olive oil, for frying (see note below if you prefer to bake instead of fry)
Your favorite sauce, jarred or homemade
Shredded vegan cheese

Slice the eggplants to your preferred thickness. I like mine sliced very thin, but some people like it a bit thicker. I slice mine about 1/4 inch thick. Lay the slices in a single layer on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with another paper towel and let sit while you prep the rest. 

Eggplant, all fried up
Next, whisk together the non-dairy milk and ground chia seeds in a shallow bowl. It should end up similar to the texture of raw whisked eggs. In another shallow bowl, pour in the breadcrumbs. Get a heavy skillet ready on the stove with some oil in it. Now, it's time to get yourself a little assembly-line going, dipping your eggplant slices into the milk mixture, then the breadcrumbs, then get them frying in the pan. Cook the slices until they are golden brown around the edges, then flip and cook the other side. Drain on paper towels. (if you prefer to avoid frying, then instead of a skillet, place the breaded slices on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 for about 3-5 minutes each side, until golden brown and crispy)

Once all the eggplant is cooked, layer the slices in a casserole dish with the sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is all melty and bubbly. Serve with pasta and a big salad.

fresh from the oven

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