For the last several months, I’ve been making a conscious effort to incorporate more plant-based meals into my day. My body personally does not thrive on a completely vegan diet (trust me, I’ve tried many times over) but I have found that when I eat mostly vegan/vegetarian meals I do feel more energetic, lighter, and my digestion is pretty happy. It truly is not difficult and even my carnivorous husband is enjoying it. The trick is to find (or create!) recipes that are a dupe of your favorite animal-protein meals and find ways to make easy veggie swaps. In this case, eggplant parm is obviously already a thing, but I’m using The Vegg’s Power Scramble* in place of egg during the breading process, taking this dish from vegetarian friendly to completely vegan friendly! How easy was that?!
By now you probably already know how much I love meal prepping, and if you don’t know, now you know. It saves my sanity (and my gut!) on a daily basis, not to mention all the time it gives me back in my day and I’m all about time maximization these days! Typically I will prep one meal for dinner that will feed my husband and myself for four nights on a Monday. This way our weekend is open for takeout or at home date night meals on the fly. Before the days of quarantine, we would order in Friday nights, go out Saturday nights, and I’d make an early Sunday dinner at home so I’m doing my best to keep with that routine, too. It makes us feel a little more normal in this very abnormal world we’re living in.
My version of eggplant parm does take a bit more time because I strongly suggest that you “sweat” your eggplant before breading and baking it. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, allow me to enlighten you! Sweating the eggplant is simple. First, you’ll want to slice it into rounds, skin on or off, chef’s choice. After your eggplant is sliced, salt each round and place in a colander. (It’s OK to start placing rounds on top of one another!) Once all rounds are salted and in the colander, place a heavy object like a serving bowl or stack of serving bowls on top. Let sit for an hour and you’ll notice that a lot of water and moisture has been squeezed out of your eggplant. Pan each round dry before dipping into the Vegg and flour mixtures. This just helps remove excess moisture so your eggplant parm turns out nice and crispy! You can certainly skip this step if you’re pressed for time, though I wouldn’t recommend it.
*Don’t forget to use code PDL15 at checkout to receive 15% off your entire purchase at www.thevegg.com !
Your colander should look something like this just before you place your serving bowls on top to “sweat” the eggplant.
1 whole medium eggplant, sliced into rounds
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce (I use Whole Foods 365 brand as it has no additional spices added. This helps avoid garlic/onion and allows you to flavor as you wish)
2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil
3 Veggs, prepared according to package directions
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup gluten free panko breadcrumbs
3 tsp oregano
2 tsp thyme
salt + pepper to taste
Fresh mozzarella or vegan mozzarella
Optional: Fresh basil for topping
Pre-heat oven to 400.
Slice eggplant into rounds. Follow directions above for “sweating” the eggplant.
Once most of the moisture is removed from the eggplant, pat dry with a paper towel.
Mix almond flour, panko crumbs, and herbs in a large mixing bowl.
In a medium mixing bowl, prepare The Vegg Power Scramble according to package directions.
6. Once The Vegg is prepared, begin dipping your eggplant into the mixture, then into the flour and spice mixture.
7. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
8. Repeat the process until all eggplant rounds are breaded and on the baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tbsp of the garlic infused olive oil over them.
9. Place baking sheet in the oven, cooking for 10 minutes, then flip the rounds and cooking for another ten minutes on other side, drizzling with remaining garlic infused olive oil.
10. After eggplant rounds have browned, remove from oven and lower heat to 350.
11. Coat the bottom of a casserole or baking dish with a little bit of the tomato sauce and fire roasted tomatoes. Line the baking dish with the eggplant rounds and cover in remaining tomato sauce/ fire roasted tomatoes.
12. Bake another 15-20 minutes before adding cheese/vegan cheese.
13. Serve in stacks with fresh basil or with a side of gluten free pasta.