Eggplant parmesan, or parmigiana di melanzane in Italian, is a traditional southern Italian entrée that may have originated in Naples. This scrumptious vegan variation uses soy cheese for the cheesy breadcrumb-crusted topping that’s a signature of the dish, but you can swap it for nutritional yeast if you like. Most panko is vegan, but make sure to check the brand you’re using to confirm.
For the Eggplant:
- 1 large eggplant
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
- 1 teaspoon flaxseed meal
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup olive oil
For the Marinara Sauce:
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup vegan Parmesan cheese
Prepare the Eggplant
Gather the ingredients.
Cut the eggplant into thin rounds about 1/4-inch thick.
Place the rounds onto a cooling rack placed on top of a large baking sheet. Make sure to spread them out into one even layer. Sprinkle them generously with some of the salt.
Layer a few layers of paper towels over the top and weigh them down with another baking sheet and a large mixing bowl set on top. Let sit for 15 minutes. This will disgorge the eggplant’s bitter juices and will also help them to become crispy.
Rinse the eggplant slices and let them dry on the same baking sheet lined with fresh paper towels. Weight them down with another baking sheet to speed up the drying process.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Whisk the flour with some of the salt and pepper in a shallow dish.
Whisk the almond milk, flaxseed meal, cornstarch, and some of the salt and pepper in another shallow dish.
Stir together the panko breadcrumbs, oregano, basil, and nutritional yeast in another shallow dish.
Dip the dried eggplant slices into the flour mixture and flip to coat both sides. Shake off excess flour.
Then dip in the almond milk mixture and flip to coat both sides.
Finally, dip the eggplant slices into the breadcrumb mixture and flip to coat both sides.
Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet or other heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high heat. Once hot, add a few coated eggplant slices at a time to the hot oil. Cook on each side for 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a cooling rack over a baking sheet and finish crisping in the oven. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices, adding them to the oven as you go.
Prepare the Sauce and Assemble
Gather the ingredients.
Use the same pan you used for frying. Remove any burnt breadcrumbs but leave the oil behind. Heat on medium heat and add the garlic. Fry until just fragrant.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and salt and lower the heat to low. Cook for at least 5 minutes or up to an hour.
Ladle the sauce in between layers of the crispy eggplant. Top with the vegan Parmesan cheese or more nutritional yeast. Enjoy immediately.
This dish is best served immediately after preparing to keep the crispy texture of the fried eggplant, but you can freeze the fried eggplant rounds after they are initially fried:
- Freeze them on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a plastic bag.
- When you want to eat them, place on a cooling rack over a baking sheet and bake at 425 F for 10 to 15 minutes or until crispy.
- Cover with sauce and serve.
- If you want to make this dish in advance, just fry the eggplant and wait to bake until right before you are ready to serve.