10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Honest to God – this might be the most fucking delicious vegan meal I have ever made!  Seriously!  And to think it only came together because I had a fridge full of random leftovers & ingredients that I needed to be done with.  I had a package of Tofutti American cheese, several slices of their mozzarella cheese (both of which I totally shit-talked in my vegan cheese review) & some leftover pasta.  Oh – and two Chinese eggplants.

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I actually had this selection of vegan cheeses – seen above.  I opted to use the individual slices first because 1) they were getting old and 2) I thought this dish would make better use of (read: mask) their less than fabulous flavor.  Ultimately – I did use some of the other two cheeses, as well.  The result is AMAZING!  You can use whatever vegan cheeses you prefer but you are going to need about a pound of various cheeses – before all is said & done.

I used Chinese eggplant & I recommend them because they are less bitter & carry less moisture than regular eggplant.

I used nutritional yeast but a vegan Parmesan would also work.  Or use neither.

This takes a few steps but all are simple & the result is a decadent feast that nobody would ever guess was vegan – at least with this particular combination of cheeses.  I find some vegan cheeses taste more fake than others – so – the brands you use will matter – but I am certain lots of other brands would be just as yummy – especially the Field Roast Chao cheeses – my favorite of the vegan cheeses I have tried.

Whatever you do – get it together to make this – at least once.  It really is killer!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

2 Chinese eggplant (or other variety) – sliced 1/2″ thick

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

8 oz (or 12 individual slices) vegan American or cheddar cheese (or a mix) – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

4 oz (or 6 individual slices) vegan mozzarella – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

(Extra grated vegan cheese to top the casserole – one that melts would be prettiest)

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

1 1/2 – 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast & dry parsley in a bowl.  Put about 1/2 cup milk in another bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.  Dunk the eggplant rounds in the milk & then through the breadcrumbs and drop into the hot oil.  They should brown pretty quickly.  Flip & brown the other side.  Put on a cooking sheet & into the oven while you repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.  You will likely need to wipe out the burnt breadcrumbs & add more oil with each batch.

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In a stock pot, melt the American and/or cheddar cheese.   Add vegan milk in small increments until it becomes creamy.   Stir in the pasta.  At this point – I decided it needed more cheese so I added two slices of this cheese (below) and a bit more milk & cooked it until it looked wet & yummy & creamy.   I am not giving exact directions as to the cheese-milk-pasta ratio because different cheeses might have more or less moisture – and everyone has a different idea of how wet mac & cheese should be.    I would suggest going a little wet – as the pasta & eggplant will absorb it & you won’t have a dry dish.

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Look at that up there!!!!  Doesn’t that look just ridiculous?!  It was all I could do not to just start shoving it in my face.  But I used considerable will power & continued with the recipe.

So – when you get your pasta-cheese-milk ratio to where it looks creamy but still a bit wet (so it won’t dry out in cooking) – take it off the flame.

Grease a casserole pan & layer half the eggplant on the bottom.

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Add another layer of eggplant with the rest of the slices & top with pasta sauce.

In the same pan you melted the cheese in – melt the mozzarella & pour it over your casserole & pop the pan into the oven.

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At this point – I took my dogs for a walk – COMPLETELY forgetting I had this in the oven.  I think it needed 30-45 minutes in the 375 oven – but it got way more than that.  Don’t burn yours.  I kinda did.   Look – not so pretty.

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So – in an effort to make it pretty again – I grated some of that cheese above onto it & popped it back into the oven for about ten minutes.  As you can see – it did little to make it prettier (that cheese did not want to melt) – but when I scooped it onto plates – it looked & SMELLED amazing!

So – maybe do not burn yours & it will be prettier but nobody needs to see it before it hits the plate, anyway.

So – scoop some onto plates & garnish with parsley and/or basil.  I swear – this will fool people out of suspecting it is vegan.  So yummy & comforting!

Waste no time & devour it!

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CHEF’D – Vegetarian Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula Salad

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home.  I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed.  One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person.  Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals – for two – each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decided for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row.  Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

Chef’d has solved those problems.  No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it.  Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes.  And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (kind of amazing looking).  I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance.  I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me.  I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.  I also posted about the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese HERE.  They can be seen below, respectively.
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So – as you can see from that big, orange box – I am posting yet another recipe from Chef’d – their Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula Salad.  I haven’t eaten meat since the eighties and the question I get most (after, “Where do you get your protein?”) is “Do you eat a lot of tofu?”
That used to get me disproportionately cranky because it implied that the only thing vegetarians ate was tofu – and sort of excused meat eaters from examining the truth because, after all, nobody should have to live on tofu!  But – I have never been a huge tofu fan and, frankly, have never bought into the whole protein “myth.”  Most of the largest animals on Earth – from elephants to rhinos & gorillas – are primarily vegan or vegetarian – and I am pretty sure they don’t take protein supplements.  At any rate – I was never a huge fan of tofu (unless it was fried) and, therefore, had very little tofu (if any) in my diet.  Then a vegan friend requested a vegan scramble recipe – so, I broken down & made one – my Vegan Tofu Chilaquiles with 5-Minute Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – seen below.
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I was SHOCKED at how delicious tofu could be & by how convincingly it replaced eggs.  This success led to Vegan Tofu Scramble Breakfast Burrito with Mixed Vegetables & CheeseVegan Tofu Quiche with Chard, Spinach & CheeseVegan Sausage, Broccoli & Cheese Quiche with Tofu & Fried Sage and even my Vegan Spicy Orange & Sriracha Glazed Tofu with Pomegranate Seeds – seen below, respectively.
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I have come to really love tofu!  So, when I saw the Tofu Parmigiana on Chef’s menu – I had to try it!  And am I glad that I did!  It might have been the easiest to prepare of all the Chef’d dishes I have tried so far & it really was delicious.  I made no changes to the recipe (though I did accidentally break one of my tofu patties) – and it came out very well.  There was a little arugula, cherry tomato & pine nut salad that was crazy easy to make and, since arugula is my favorite of the lettuces out there, I found it to be delicious – and clean & lite.
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As you can see – I overcooked the cheese a bit – likely because my oven needs calibration – but Chef’d had supplied more mozzarella than the recipe called for so I just added a bit more & baked it another 2 minutes or so – until it melted.  The golden cheese was actually quite yummy!  In fact – the entire dish – including the salad are definitely worth repeating.  But – while I was photographing it – I decided a bit of fresh basil would be a nice touch – so I went on my balcony to get some.  And look who met me out there!
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Cutie, little lady bug!  I tried to get a better shot but she scuttled away.  So – I picked some basil & continued to photograph.  And then I ate it up.  But – like with the CHEF’D – Vegetarian Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese – I found this meal to be quite light – maybe too light to serve two for dinner.  I made this for lunch & easily killed the salad alone and scarfed three of the tofu Parmigiana cutlet thingies and had to stop myself from eating the fourth.  Granted, I had just done a heated spinning class that burns about 1000 calories but – still.  I think there is no way two MEN could share this meal & call it dinner – unless they were looking to restrict portion size & trying to lose weight (and who isn’t trying to lose weight?).   And – maybe I am just a good ole-fashioned American glutton – but I nearly ate all of this for lunch – all of a meal planned to feed two.  I would definitely eat it all at dinner – all of both portions.  I mean – the tofu seemed to be about 1/2 lb (notice the label is the label for almost a pound but is cut in half) –
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meaning that the 1/2 pound block supplied only has 225 calories.  Add the sauce & cheese & even the salad and you increase the calories a bit but still – if feeding two – within the calories range of your average Lean Cuisine.  I don’t know about you – but although I used to eat Lean Cuisine – ALL THE TIME – I never found them very filling.  That said – there are likely more people out there looking for a truly light but still delicious vegetarian meal & this dish supplies that in spades.
After writing that – I realized that Chef’d must supply nutritional info – and they do.  Here it is (below) showing more calories than I guessed – at 495 per diner.   I think 500 calories for a dinner – for most people – would result in weight loss.  Since most of us need to lose a few – that could be a very good thing.  Still – I think it is unrealistic to think most Americans would find this meal substantial enough for two adults – for dinner.
That said – it really was easy & it really was tasty & I really am glad I did not eat the whole 2 portions for lunch – like I wanted to.  Primarily, because I still have an entire Chef’d pizza – a White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms and an Arugula Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette – downstairs.  Waiting to be cooked.  By me.  And eaten.  By myself.  Tonight.  Alone.  Whole pizza.  Yup.
Don’t judge me!   🙂
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PS – Chef’d has two holiday dinner options that you can customize – to serve 4 or 8.  Smoked Goose & Prime Rib.
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