We all know we shouldn’t eat too many fried foods. However, once in a while, and especially when you are using an oil which doesn’t denature at high temperatures, a home cooked fried dish, made with amore, is completely OK! This week I share with you a classic Italian recipe in its veganized form, Eggplant No-Parmesana, because that’s what I do: I veganize!
My sister Felicia has always loved this dish. Whenever we have a special family occasion, she always asks either me or my mom to make this eggplant delicacy. When I successfully managed to veganize it, I naturally named it after her!
There are many recipes we are familiar with that commonly use cheese. We already discussed the horrors of dairy so naturally we will stay far away from it at all costs. Also, there is a growing body of research indicating that in fact milk does a body bad, very bad. Giving up dairy milk for most people is not that difficult, but the thought of letting cheese go often makes people panic. It is useful to understand that there is a real biological reason for this: cheese is physically addictive.
Although there is a multitude of non-dairy cheeses available, all delicious, sometimes we can just make the classic dish without any cheese at all. The non-dairy cheeses (I encourage you to try them) all have their own distinct flavor and therefore can interfere at times with the classic taste we are looking to achieve, like for example, with this eggplant dish. For this reason, I chose to make it without any cheese at all, and topped it instead with hemp seeds (a little nutritional yeast mixed with the hemp seeds is a common cheesy-tasting replacement you may want to try as well). I must say it was excellent! My sister loved it!
I like the lightness of grapeseed oil for stovetop cooking. Coconut oil is another oil which does not denature at high temperatures and is therefore also ideal for cooking.
Typically, Italians serve this dish with fresh (usually white!) bread. Soooo yummy! However, we can choose healthier whole-wheat, kamut or millet bread options, sprouted grain breads, or vegan whole-wheat pitas or even vegan naan bread. It’s nice to have something to scoop up the sauce with so choose whatever bread you like! You can also pass on the bread – no harm done!
The tomato sauce is a very important component to this dish. It must be perfectly delicious in order for this recipe to be a success. Therefore, I strongly recommend making your own tomato sauce, so as to avoid the added sugar and preservatives (don’t worry – it’s so easy)!
Here you are: another classic Italian recipe to add to your repertoire, new and improved in its vegan splendor! Enjoy, in joy and in health!
2 large eggplants
2 cups homemade tomato sauce (see recipe in previous FTB article)
2 teaspoons sea salt
½ cup grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 cup chopped parsley
3-4 basil leaves
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (and nutritional yeast if desired)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Slice eggplants into thin, round pieces.
2. Arrange slices layer by layer in a colander, sprinkling sea salt over each layer. Cover colander with a plate and place a weight over the plate to apply pressure to the slices of eggplant. This will help drain excess water from the eggplant. Let drain for 4 to 5 hours before cooking.
3. In a large saucepan, heat the oil at high heat. Introduce 4-5 pieces of eggplant and fry for 5 minutes or until they appear slightly golden and crispy. Turn pieces over and repeat.
4. Once cooked, place each piece of eggplant on paper towels to drain excess oil.
5. In a large glass casserole dish, add one cup of tomato sauce. Place pieces of cooked eggplant in casserole and once layer is complete, add sauce to the whole layer. Start another layer with pieces of cooked eggplant and repeat procedure until all eggplant pieces are in the casserole.
6. Place casserole in the oven and bake at 350˚F for 10 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and garnish with parsley, basil leaves and hemp seeds. Serve warm, preferably with fresh bread of your choice.
“A man of my spiritual intensity does not eat corpses.” ~George Bernard Shaw