This oozy and delicious egg plant parm is an absolute dinner delight, beloved by vegans and meat eaters alike.

This version can be made with either almond or regular ricotta, and uses the traditional Italian method where the aubergines are added in layers without being crumbed and fried. I love this version much better than the breaded american one, firstly it keeps it gluten free, but also, after you have inhaled an extra large portion, you don’t feel sluggish. We roast our eggplant slices with a slick of oil, meaning less labour too, as we not needing to pan fry them individually! The addition of the almond ricotta also helps keep things devilishly delicious and vegan, but if you strapped for time, skip making your own almond ricotta and buy the cows milk version.

An incredible aubergine parm also rests on a great tomato sauce. If you have the time, simmer the tomato sauce for as long as you can, even up to three/four hours, topping up the liquid with water to stop it sticking on the bottom and burning. The long and slow simmer brings out the best in tinned tomatoes, mellowing out any acidity and making them taste absolutely spectacular. I usually cook a massive batch of my signature pomodoro (tomato) sauce, then divide it into small containers in the freezer just ready for a spaghetti dinner on the fly or aubergine parm situation. This pomodoro sauce is spiked with a few chilli flakes, because I love to bring the heat, but leave it out if you are cooking a large batch, to keep your sauce versatile. It can always be added in when needed.

The cookalong for this recipe can be found on The Culinary Cartel Instagram on our story highlights or by clicking here.

Right, let’s cook!

Eggplant Parmigiana Your Way

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce :

2 Tins Tomatoes

4 Cloves Garlic

2 Onions, sliced thinly

1 Carrot, peeled and diced

1 tsp Chili Flakes (optional)

1/4 Cup Basil

 

For the Filling

100g Skinned Almonds, soaked for 4 hours in cold water or 30mins in boiling water

1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

OR

1 Cup Ricotta cheese

 

Assembly

4-6 Aubergines (700g)

2/3 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated (vegan or dairy)

Parmesan (optional)

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

(As needed)

 

Method:

Soak your almonds: either in cold water for 4 hours, or for 30 minutes in boiling water.

Place a pot on a medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil, then add the onions and carrots. Cook the onions until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Next get onto making your aubergines. Slice the aubergines into 1 cm thick rounds, place them on a baking rack and sprinkle them with salt, to draw our the bitter juices. Allow the aubergines to rest, salted for about 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 220C.

While the onions cook, make your almond ricotta (if you are using it). Place the drained soaked almonds into a food processor, and blitz them until they are a broken down into small pieces. Add the nutritional yeast into the blender. With the motor running, ass 1 Tbsp of water at a time, until the almond ricotta is creamy, a little chunky and similar in consistency to normal ricotta. Once ready, salt it to taste and set it aside until needed.

Add the tomatoes, to the pot. Swirl the empty tin with roughly 125ml water to collect all the residual juices, then add this to the pot too.

Cook the tomato sauce for at least 45 minutes but ideally 2-3 hours (you can even go up to 4 hours).

Wipe the aubergines with paper towel, then place them on a baking tray, drizzle them in olive oil and pop them in the oven to roast until brown on the one side. Then flip them to brown on the other side. Once cooked, set them aside until your tomato sauce has finished cooking. Turn the

Once your tomato sauce has finished cooking, and is nice and thick, add half the basil leaves and chilli, and blend until smooth.

To assemble add tomato sauce to the base of your casserole. Next add a layer of cooked aubergine, more tomato sauce and a layer of your ricotta. Repeat the process until all the aubergine is used up, and end of a nice generous layer of tomato sauce. Add the remaining basil leaves to to the top of the aubergine parm. Scatter your mozzarella cheese over the top and if using as scattering of parmesan.

Cover the casserole, and bake for 20minutes, then uncover the dish and cook for 15-20 minutes more until the cheese is golden and bubbly.

Serve immediately nice and hot from the oven.

Happy cooking