Giving immediate recipe credit to The Minimalist Baker and their genius when it comes to recipes that are
simple to follow
free of fancy ingredients or tools
conscious of dietary needs/preferences
I recently made their Vegan Eggplant Parmesan and it was SO DELICIOUS, and so impressive to me for a few reasons. Let me tell you about it, and share just a couple tweaks I made in my own preparation!
Until very recently, I would have included eggplant on my list of foods I don't particularly like (and there's not a lot on there - it's mostly texture things like slimy mushrooms and olives). One of the reasons I love belonging to a CSA and receiving a farm share each week during the harvest season is that it challenges me to cook and eat things that might normally be outside my comfort zone.
When eggplant started showing up, I had two options:
1) give it away
2) find something to "hide it in"
The only two things I could think of to make were baba ganoush (which is basically like a hummus but made from eggplant instead of chick peas) and eggplant parm, which commonly shows up on vegan/vegetarian menus but I've always avoided. Someone pointed me toward the Minimalist Baker's recipe, and now I'm HOOKED!
It didn't take too long to make (prepping the eggplant is the only real work), and made the texture of the eggplant so light and crispy that I went back for seconds of just that. Couldn't even believe it. Highly recommend you give it a try!
I did make just a few tweaks to the recipe, so I figured I'd pass those along.
In the ingredient list, I chose to use whole wheat flour and swapped soy milk for almond. I just prefer to include those additional nutrients (and it's what I keep in the house).
I used veggie pasta (like the wheat noodles, not zucchini or anything).
I added fresh tomatoes to my marinara sauce, as well as a few crumbled plant-based meatballs from Aldi. Again, was just lo0king to pump up the nutrients by adding another veggie & a little more protein. While the eggplant is a delicious feature, I tried to keep a balanced plate in mind.
The first couple steps of salting the eggplant and letting it rest are CRUCIAL to both flavor and texture. I didn't press it after, though; I used a kitchen towel to ring out the water from each, just to speed up the process a little.
I also actually skipped step 6, the pan-fry step! While I'm sure this is super tasty, I made this choice for a couple reasons: save some more time/effort, and eliminate added oil. Instead, I cooked them for about 15 minutes on each side, turning the oven up to 425 for the last maybe 10 minutes. This is just personal preference.
I will absolutely be making this on a regular basis now. I hope you try it, too! Leave me a comment if it looks tasty, and be sure to come back and let us know what you thought!