Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheesy Italian Eggplant Casserole? Veganized Eggplant Parmesan? What do I Call This? Also, YOU WANT TO MAKE IT. So You Can Scarf it Down.

OMG SIGNATURE VEGAN DISH. Why am I giving it you? I like to show off, that's why!

This is an intense one, but WELL worth the effort.

You will need:
     *1 recipe marinara sauce (I guess, if you are short on time, you could use jarred stuff. When I was a beginner, that's what I'd do. It cuts a lot of time out, and will be cheaper. But making everything from scratch is such an accomplishment!)
     *1 recipe Italian Cashew Cheese
     *2 - 4 Eggplants (Depending on how much you want to make. I like leftovers.)
     *Salt and pepper
     *Olive oil
     *Roughly a pound of pasta (I use a 13.5 oz box of Dreamfields Low Carb Penne Pasta)

Basically, we are making an eggplant Parmesan here. But it's not breaded or fried! It doesn't have dairy in it! So, it's healthier, and maybe I'm biased, but I think it's tastier (though I do love fried food, don't get me wrong. I love it when people refer to me as a health nut, I scoff in inside my head, BUT on the OUTSIDE I'm totally FLATTERED).

I like to roast my eggplant first. It cuts down on the cooking time dramatically and it can roast while I make the cashew cheese and marinara. Preheat the oven to 375. Cut your eggplant into GENEROUS 1/3 of an inch thick pieces. Liberally sprinkle each side with salt and pepper (I have coated before and ugh - too salty). Put on a greased baking sheet and drizzle each piece with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes.

Not pretty, I know - but this is how the slices look out of the oven. I don't bother about neatly slicing them - see those potato cut mofo's in the corner? I mean, it gets covered in cheese and sauce, plus I'm usually scarfing this down alone, watching netflix movies - who am I trying to impress? I don't know, maybe your life is different.

Cook yo' pasta. I mean boil, whatevs. I like to do a layer of pasta underneath the eggplant. Ever since Crystal started making her baked mac'n'cheese I have LOVED the taste/idea of baked pasta dishes. That crunch! YUM. In a casserole pan, dish, baking apparatus, layer pasta, marinara sauce, one layer of eggplant, cheese, eggplant, marinara, cheese AND BAKE. 375 for about 20 mins or so. (If you don't roast your eggplant beforehand, it will take about 45 minutes to an hour and a half until done and you will want to cover with foil.) Test - if it's fork tender, (the bottom pieces) bake for another 5 or ten, til 'cheese' is browned.

Pasta + Marinara.
 Eggplant on top
 Layer of cashew cheese
More eggplant.