This dish was totes inspired by my desire to start liking eggplant. I don’t hate eggplant. But if someone said–here, you can have this eggplant for dinner or you can have this *insert almost any other plant here*. I would no doubt choose the other plant. Part of my indifference to eggplant is that I just don’t know what to do with the big purple bulby plant. So my first, yes first, foray into cooking with it was to make the most clichéd eggplant-y dish ever. Cheesy eggplant lasagna. This dish is stacks on stacks of earthy, tender eggplant with basil ricotta, cashew cheese and tomato marinara sauce stuffed in between. A crusty layer of panko crumbs offers a nice textural contrast to the tender eggplant. Since I already had my cashew cheese made and used store bought marinara sauce, it wasn’t too difficult or time consuming to put this together. And layering lasagna is always fun!
Eggplant Lasagna with Ricotta and Cashew Cheese
- 1 medium eggplant
- about 5 1/4 cups of tofu ricotta (I did 1.5X the basil-ricotta recipe in Isa’s Veganomicon. Don’t have Veganomicon? Just google “tofu ricotta” and pick a recipe that looks good!)
- 1/2 cup of cashew cheese
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- oil (for sauteeing eggplant)
- 1 jar of marinara sauce
- panko bread crumbs for sprinkling on top
- 3 tomato slices (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare the tofu ricotta. Stir the cashew cheese and spinach leaves into the ricotta. Next slice the eggplant lengthwise into thin layers. In a pan lightly coated with oil, cook the eggplant slices until lightly browned and mostly soft on each side (~5 minutes each side). Now it’s time to layer everything in a 2.2 qt glass baking dish (7×11). This is how I did the layers: marinara on the bottom, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, marinara, eggplant, ricotta-cashew cheese, eggplant, lots of marinara and panko bread crumbs. Then I placed three slices of tomatoes brushed with a little oil on top. I baked this for 30 minutes covered with foil and then about another 30 minutes without foil. Cooking times may vary depending on your oven and how thick your eggplants are sliced. I checked the tenderness by sticking a bamboo skewer in the eggplant slices. I considered it done when the skewer easily went through all the layers. Was this dish enough to change my mind about eggplant? Well I bought another purple beauty this week and I’ve got my mind set on some eggplant fries.