This delicious and satisfying oven-baked dish is a vegan take on the classic Italian "melanzane alla Parmigiana" (eggplant parmigiana), made with eggplant in rolls, rather than in layers. I have also made a version of this recipe with cannelloni in place of the eggplant – it just takes longer to stuff the cannelloni tubes with the filling! However, not only are the eggplant rolls quicker, and have that "meaty" texture, but nutritionally they are better for you than pasta in any case (not that I am knocking pasta, as I adore it; it is just that using aubergine you get extra vegetables, which is even more healthy). You don't usually need to slice and salt the eggplant before cooking for this dish, just don't add too much oil, as they absorb a lot!
You can either make your own tomato sauce, as directed below, or use ready-made pasta sauce, to save time (home-made sauce adds extra richness and deliciousness though). The stuffing also consists of vegan ricotta, and I have recently posted a blog with two recipes for this, so you are good to go! (I usually make the ricotta about a day in advance, which is then one less step to do for the recipe).
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 2 eggplant, cut into thin slices, lengthwise
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 500 g/1lb 2oz spinach, either fresh or frozen and thawed
- 250 g vegan ricotta *
- grating of nutmeg
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp grated vegan cheese
- 2 chopped red peppers
Tomato sauce: **
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sugar
- ¼ cup of chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 350 g can of tomato pureé ½ cup sugar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
1) To make the sauce, heat oil over a medium ring and saute the onions. Add the garlic and sauté. Add herbs, tomato pureé, sugar and water, and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.
2) Whilst the sauce is cooking, heat the oven to 220 °C/gas 7. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with oil, then lay on a large baking tray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until tender, turning once.
3) Meanwhile, if using fresh spinach, put it in a large colander and pour boiling water to wilt it. Cool, then squeeze out the excess water. If using frozen spinach, thaw it out thoroughly first. Mix with the ricotta, peppers, nutmeg and plenty of seasoning.
4) Dollop a spoonful of the cheesy spinach mixture in the center of each eggplant slice, fold over to make a parcel and lay, sealed-side down in an ovenproof dish.
5) Cover with tomato sauce, breadcrumbs and cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes until piping hot.
6) Serve with a green salad and crusty bread, or garlic bread. It also tastes delicious reheated the next day! Enjoy!
* See my previous blog, "A Cheesy Subject!", for recipes for vegan "ricotta."
** Or use 1 350g can of ready-made tomato sauce.
*Photo courtesy Flickr creative commons.