Stuffed Vegan Eggplant Parmesan (Gluten Free)
Eggplant parmesan is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Saucy, greasy, with melty eggplant and loads of cheese. I mean what’s not to love?
In fact — I’m pretty sure my husband started falling in love with me the first time I made eggplant parmesan for him back when we were in college. I was 19 and he was 21. I baked it in his painfully grimy college bachelor kitchen (he lived with four other guys and two cats, it was a SIGHT let’s leave it at that). I remember eating gigantic plates of that eggplant parm with him while sitting on a couch on his front porch, (yes, a couch…. did I mention college? Nothing chic to see here, moving on…).
I remember this feeling of peace — just sitting together, making jokes, enjoying the easy Spring air and eating this delicious dish together. He was (as per usual) shirtless and casually handsome. I was (as per usual) trying to act cool whilst hiding my inner Hermione. I secretely wanted to clean his house SO BAD.
Anyhoozle, to wrap up that story, we didn’t actually end up dating until I was 21. Then we got married. Then I found 5 dollars.
We still both think about that “kind of date” every time I make eggplant parm.
These days I go for a healthed-up version of eggplant parmesan. Vegan! Gluten free! Yeah, buddy!
Bet hey, since I love it so much (and my husband is bonkers for it) why oh why don’t I make it at home more often?
And then I remember.
It takes a long goddamn time. And ain’t nobody got time for all the steps required to go traditional with an eggplant parm. It’s the same reason I only make lasagna for special occasions. It’s a high maintainence dish.
So I decided to break down the eggplant parmesan concept and make an easier version that ticks off all of my boxes.
This stuffed vegan eggplant parmesan is:
full of luscious melty eggplant,
packed with lots of vegan cheese,
topped with crispy (almond) parmesan which doubles as the breadcrumb factor,
doesn’t require any breading or frying,
and takes 30 minutes or less to cook.
Here’s how it works:
The eggplant halves get their guts scooped out.
Then while the eggplant shells are baking you cook down the eggplant flesh with olive oil, onion and garlic until tender.
Then stir in pasta sauce, balsamic, basil and vegan cheese.
You fill the shells back up with all of that saucy goodness, then top with more vegan cheese and almond parmesan — which is little more than almond meal and nutritional yeast, but it does the trick magnificently.
Broil it and bing bang boom — a whole lot of delicious eggplant parm goodness.
Serve with pasta and hoo boy, that’s quite a meal!
I love recipes like this — ones that feel kind of decadent, almost like a restaurant dish. But in the end are really healthy and easy to pull off. It’s even an impressive date night meal! See anecdote above ;) And, bonus, it makes amazing leftovers. You will thank yourself at lunch-time the next day!
I hope you all enjoy this recipe! Scroll all the way down to get the full recipe notes. And leave a comment if you make it, I love hearing your feedback! Feel free to tag me in any photos you share of it on the ‘gram — @willfrolicforfood and #willfrolicforfood
xo — Renee
Stuffed Vegan Eggplant Parmesan (Gluten Free)
Author: Renee Byrd - Adapted from: The Kitchn - Active prep time: 5 mins - Inactive prep time: 0 mins - Total cook time: 30 mins Makes: 4 large servings / 4 large eggplant halves
Notes: 1. For the vegan cheese, I usually just use Daiya. But use any vegan cheese shreds you like! I think mozzerella style works out the best in this recipe. 2. For pasta, I use Jovial’s gluten free spaghetti or capellini — their gluten free pastas are the best of all of the dried pasta options, in my opinion. 3. For marinara sauce, I usually go for Trader Joe’s Spaghetti sauce or their Arrabiatta sauce if I’m feeling spicy.
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 large globe eggplants
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for topping
1 1/4 cups shredded vegan cheese, divided
To serve: cooked pasta, more fresh basil, more marinara sauce
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Make the “vegan parmesan” crumble by combining the almond meal, nutritional yeast, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Leaving a 1/2-inch border around the insides of the eggplant, use a paring knife to cut around the insides of each half, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon, creating boats out of the shells. Coarsely chop the eggplant flesh and set aside.
Rub the insides of the hollowed eggplant shells with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Place the shells cut-side up in a large baking dish. Roast until tender (there should be no resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife) — about 15 - 20 minutes depending on the size of the eggplant. Once cooked, remove and set aside.
While the eggplant shells are baking, set a large sauce pot on medium high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chopped eggplant flesh, garlic, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant is tender, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the marinara and balsamic vinegar. Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the basil, 1 cup of vegan cheese and 1/4 cup of the vegan Parmesan and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, pepper or balsamic vinegar as you like.
Heat the oven to low Broil. Spoon the filling evenly into the cooked eggplant shells. Top with the remaining 3/4 cup vegan cheese and vegan parmesan crumble. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crumble is browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Serve with pasta, a sprinkling of fresh basil and more marinara sauce — as you like. Enjoy!