Easy Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Recipe You’ll Love

I love this easy vegan eggplant parmesan recipe, which evolved from a vegetarian recipe I used to make when I lived in Italy, called melanzane alla parmigiana.

This vegan eggplant dish is one of those (like all my recipes) that can be tweaked and changed to fit the moment. Add more vegetables or less. Keep it simpler or make it more complicated.

Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan with garnish
Vegan eggplant parmesan with red pepper

Sometimes I add all sorts of things to the basic vegan eggplant recipe and other times I make it with just eggplants, tomato frito and cashew nut sauce. Today I’m going to add one layer of onion and red pepper in the middle, but it’s totally fine without it too.

So here we go!

Oh yes and before we go on, one thing I love about this easy vegan eggplant parmesan recipe (apart from the fact that it’s so yummy) is that you can make it in advance, so no standing in the kitchen while your guests have all the fun.

And one other thing: this tastes delicious the next day, served cold, too. But not too cold – best to take it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving or it will lose some of its flavour. (Just my personal preference.)

Preparation for Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

First, thinly slice the eggplants and lay them in a large dish, sprinkling each slice with salt. Leave to stand for about 30 minutes or until they’re sitting in their own juices.

Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan
Tapas-sized eggplant parmesan slice

Meanwhile, slice one large onion and one red pepper into small pieces, if using. If you want to keep it simple, omit this part.

When you’re ready to build the layers, rinse the slices of eggplant under running water and rub well to clear off the salt. Keep rinsing and rubbing the flesh of the eggplant until the water is clear.

Check the salt level by cutting off a tiny piece of eggplant and putting it to your tongue. A little bit of salt flavour is perfect, but make sure that there isn’t too much salt left in the flesh.

If it’s too salty, rinse again and rub the eggplant some more while under the water. After rinsing, lay the slices onto kitchen paper so that the worst of the water is absorbed and the slices are semi-dry.

For the Cashew Nut Sauce

You can use cashew nut sauce for so many different things, so if you already have some in the fridge which you made as a sour cream replacement for example, that’s fine to use in this recipe. You might also like to read this post for the full recipe for making cashew nut sauce.

Measuring cup full of cashew nuts
Cashews for making cashew nut sauce

I like to soak the cashews before making the sauce because I find my blender doesn’t do a good enough job of making a creamy sauce without lumps of nuts in it otherwise.

I don’t soak them overnight like some people do, because I rarely plan sufficiently in advance for overnight soaking!

So my cashews may get 30-60 minutes soaking before starting the sauce.

Blend the cashews, gradually adding water until you get a thick paste. Add a pinch of salt, about half a lemon’s worth of lemon juice and a dash of apple vinegar.

Use the taste test to add more or less lemon or salt to taste and be careful not to overdo either. When you’re happy with the taste add plenty of nutritional yeast. The amount you add is up to you, but I add about 3 tablespoons.

Vegan cashew sauce is so handy in so many recipes, not just this eggplant parmesan recipe but also in this zucchini casserole, and this potato & zucchini casserole or when making a buddha bowl.

Layering this Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Lightly oil the bottom of a baking dish. Next, place a layer of eggplant slices over the base.

Within each layer of eggplant you want to add a little olive oil. You can either sprinkle it over or you can use a brush to lightly brush some oil onto each slice of eggplant.

spoon some tomato purée and tomato frito between each layer of eggplant. You can also use just tomato frito, or you can replace both the purée and frito with a homemade tomato sauce if you have one handy.

In the middle layer, add the finely chopped red pepper and onion (if using) and then cover the whole lot with the cashew sauce before carrying on with the eggplant-tomato layering.

When you’ve filled your dish or used up all your eggplant, pour on a few tablespoons of unsweetened soya milk (about a quarter of a cup).

Cover the top of the eggplant parmesan with a thick layer of the cashew nut sauce and a sprinkling of homemade vegan parmesan or plain nutritional yeast.

Serving Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

I like to make a large casserole of this and I eat it in loads of different ways. Tapas by the TV, main dish for dinner, or a slice for lunch. Serve with salad, or in winter with roast potatoes and vegetables. You can also cut this up into small cubes and make a buddha-bowl style meal only served on a plate.

That might include: cube of vegan eggplant parmesan, red rice, avocado, raw spinach with cherry tomatoes, vegan cheese and topped with cashew sauce or vegan mayonnaise.

I’ve eaten this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. (Ok most people wouldn’t eat this for breakfast, but hey-ho, I would!) It’s cool as a starter, tapas or main course. It’s relatively quick and easy to put together and makes an attractive and different dish to give your non-vegan guests.

Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan and red rice
Vegan eggplant parmesan served as a tapas

I have my own sneaky suspicion that this might even be enjoyed by people who generally think they don’t like eggplant. Why? Because it’s just so unique in flavour – it doesn’t taste like other eggplant recipes. And besides, my husband says he doesn’t like eggplant – but he loves this.

Let me know if you know anyone who doesn’t like eggplant who have tried this recipe – did they like it??

Troubleshooting Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

This isn’t an inherently difficult recipe to make, but it can go wrong. No panic though, because it can also be put right again.

  • Make sure that you sweat the eggplant (i.e. coat in salt, leave to stand, then rinse before using) as this is an essential part of the recipe. If you skip it, you risk the whole dish. For other recipes I never sweat the eggplant, but in this case it alters the flavour of the eggplant parmesan and it softens the eggplant before cooking.
  • After sweating, rinse the eggplant properly. The fact that it is a little bit salty in flavour helps the overall recipe but if it’s too salty, it could ruin the whole dish.
  • The eggplant needs the right amount of liquid and oil in order to cook through and be tasty. If there isn’t enough, it will be tough and still look like separate layers instead of being gelled into one. To remedy this, just add a dash of plant milk and return to the oven to finish cooking.
  • If the eggplant is undercooked, even slightly, the whole flavour is sacrificed. It’s essential that this is really well cooked to get to its yummy status.
  • If the eggplant is overcooked in too much liquid it can lose its texture and become a bit slimy in consistency – but you would have to put much too much liquid in it for this to happen.

Solutions to Above Troubleshooting

Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan
Eggplant parmesan, delicious as a snack
  • Always sweat the eggplant until they are sitting in brown liquid that has oozed from them.
  • Never skip the part where you check you’ve rinsed them well enough.
  • If in doubt about the amount of liquid, check it during cooking. If it’s burning at the bottom of the casserole dish and/or is dry in the middle, add a little more soy milk. If, when you’ve finished cooking, the layers are still separate because there wasn’t enough liquid, don’t worry, you can even cook this a second time with a little extra soy milk to rectify the situation.
  • If you aren’t happy with the flavour, add something to correct it and re-cook. No problem. I’ve even cooked this, left in the fridge overnight, then the next day added extra tomato frito and olive oil in the middle (by carefully lifting the eggplant slices) and then re-cooked the whole thing for a second time. And it turned out perfect!
  • If it’s overcooked there’s not much you can do about it except eat it and enjoy it as it is!

Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Recipe

Recipe by Love Vegan LivingCourse: Main courseCuisine: Inspired by ItalianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

6

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes

This delicious vegan eggplant parmesan recipe can be used as a main dish in a dinner party, as a main meal on its own, as a tapas snack or as part as a buddha-bowl-plate. It can also be eaten cold or reheated the next day. And it’s great for when you’re feeding guests because it can be prepared in advanced.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 Eggplants, thinly sliced, sweated and rinsed.

  • Tomato frito

  • Tomato purée

  • 1 finely chopped red pepper

  • 1 finely chopped onion

  • Cashew nut sauce (cashews, lemon juice, apple vinegar, nutritional yeast)

  • olive oil

Directions

  • Slice the eggplant thinly and sprinkle with salt. Leave to sweat for at least 30 minutes or until sitting in its own juices.
  • Rinse the eggplant well and check that its not too salty when finished.
  • Lightly oil the casserole dish and layer the eggplant alternately with the tomato frito and tomato purée (or homemade tomato sauce), lightly oiling each layer of eggplant as you go.
  • In the middle, put a layer of red pepper and onion and a tiny sprinkle of salt. Cover with a layer of cashew sauce before continuing with the eggplant/tomato layering.
  • Finish with a thick layer of cashew sauce and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan on top.

Notes

  • Eat hot, eat cold, serve for lunch, for tapas or for dinner. Make in advance or make in the moment, either way this is a versatile meal.
Slice of vegan eggplant parmesan on a plate

Other Eggplant Meals

Personally, I love eggplant. It’s one of my favourite vegetables yet so many people don’t know what to cook with an eggplant, so if you’re one of them, here are a few of the meals I like to make.

Baked Eggplant

Firstly, my absolute favourite has to be baked eggplant. It’s so simple it doesn’t even need a recipe. There are two ways of preparing the eggplant for baking.

Either remove the stem and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, so that you have two halves, or (my preference) leave the stem on and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise while leaving it attached at the stem end.

Roasted vegetables with red rice for a vegan dinner recipe
Baked Eggplant as part of an easy meal

This way you have one eggplant instead of two halves, it looks attractive, takes us less space in the oven and cooks slightly differently because it is protected by its other half.

For both methods, once you’ve prepared the eggplant, simply cut some criss-cross marks into the flesh (without going through the skin), sprinkle with salt and brush with olive oi.

A baked eggplant makes up part of this easy vegan dinner recipe shown in the image above.

More Eggplant Recipes

As well as eating baked eggplant, I love to grill it and eat it straight from the grill, or include it as part of a buddha bowl, or add it to a king salad or in a grilled summer vegetable salad.

If I’m making a curry, one of my favourites would definitely be an eggplant curry. And if I have guests coming round, then I’ll sometimes opt for a vegan stuffed eggplant as long as I know they like eggplant!

And that’s it! Yummm!

I hope you enjoyed this easy vegan eggplant parmesan recipe. Let me know if you make it! Are there any more eggplant recipes you make?

8 Responses

  1. isabel
    | Reply

    I love eggplant Parmesan, but I never added the cashew – sounds good. I feel at this moment in time home recipes are a great online article. For this recipe even a non-vegan will love it. People can really take this time to cook a lot more than usual and/or learn to cook. I’m going to make this. Keep the recipes coming!  

    • Soraya
      | Reply

      The cashew sauce is delicious in lots of different meals and replaces the cheesiness of traditional eggplant parmesan. It’s also great as a sauce to serve with meals! Thanks for visiting and I hope you enjoy the eggplant parmesan!

  2. coralie
    | Reply

    This just looks and sounds like an amazing recipe.  It reminds me of a lasagna type of dish, that seems like you would want to make a big pan full.
    To be honest, I have never had eggplant before, so now I am intrigued. In the current situation of being stuck at home with all that is going on in the world, a good plate of home cooking seems like a great idea.
    I am going to give it a go.  I do have one question for you, what does sweat the eggplant mean?
    Great job on the post, and your presentation of the the Vegan Eggplant Parmesan is classy.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    • Soraya
      | Reply

      In these times of lockdown it is indeed a perfect time to create one meal of home-cooking each day! The great thing about this one is that you can eat it in different ways over the next couple of days too. Sweating the eggplant means covering it in salt and leaving it for about 30 minutes. In that time it sweats out a lot of liquid, which leaves the eggplant softer, drier and more flavoursome. I hope you enjoy eating it!

  3. Benny
    | Reply

    Finding a good article isn’t easy, so I must commend you for creating such a beautiful website and bringing up an article to help others with good information like this. Adjusting to new diets has been quite a task for me but I love this particular recipe. Thank you for sharing.

    • Soraya
      | Reply

      Thank you for your kind comment! 🙂

  4. Smoochi
    | Reply

    The fact that I have come to learn something tangible from this post is satisfying. The make of your website is nice and the simplicity of the colour selection makes it beautiful. This is an entirely new recipe to me and I would really like to try it out. Please permit me to share this with some of my friends.

    • Soraya
      | Reply

      By all means share it with your friends! I hope you enjoy it!

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