These eggplant-tomato stacks are inspired by a recipe for eggplant parmesan I found in The Meatless Gourmet, a cookbook published in ’95 by Bonnie Hinman (co-author of the Lean and Luscious book series, as indicated on the cover), a cookbook of my mom’s that for as long as I can remember has sat nestled between New Recipes from the Moosewood Restaurant (1987). That book always fascinated me due to its endorsement by Francis Moore Lappe (author of Diet For a Small Planet) and influenced by Mollie Katzan, founder of Moosewood Restaurant, author of Moosewood Cookbook, and The Enchanted Broccoli Forest.
Despite my infatuation with those books ever since I can remember knowing what “vegetarian” meant, as I grew older and cut out dairy, eggs, etc. I wondered why the moosewood recipes involved so much butter and cream. The book is gorgeous and deliciously vintage in terms of typography and photography; however, I always found it confusing when turing to a page that exhibited a photograph of a very thin, vibrant-looking individual (or group of individuals) riding bikes or picnicking, when the majority of recipes involved such an asinine amount of fattening diary products.
Of course, this version is vegan—and eliminates the carb- and gluten-laden breadcrumbs and the oil typically present in eggplant parmesan or similar dishes.
Eggplant Ricotta Stacks
1 beefsteak tomato
1 batch vegan ricotta (see below)
prepared marinara sauce, optional
greens for garnish/side, optional
for the vegan ricotta
5oz firm tofu
2 Tbsp cashew butter
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 artichoke hearts (from a can packed in water)
1 Tbsp chia seeds
Add 1 Tbsp chia seeds and 2 Tbsp water to a blender or food processor. Let sit for 2 minutes until it forms a gel.
Add the cashew butter, artichokes, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp water/brine from the artichokes. Add more water/brine if additional liquid is needed for the ingredients to blend. The result should be mostly smooth, enough to pulverize the chia seeds and artichoke hearts—with a texture that resembles a thick sauce. Set aside. Mash/crumble the tofu with a fork or your hands, to achieve a texture similar to ricotta cheese. Add the cashew-artichoke mixture gradually, and stir to combine. Cover, and set aside.
Slice eggplant cross-wise to create circular pieces of 1cm thickness. Spread pieces on a lightly oiled broiler pan or cookie sheet large enough to avoid overlap (a little overlap is ok, and probably unavoidable depending on the size of your eggplant). Broil on low for 6-7 minutes on each side, until lightly browned, turning once. As the eggplant browns, slice the tomato in “standard” cuts i.e. like the type you would find at a sandwich bar or the kind served on hamburgers.
Remove eggplant from oven. When cool enough to touch, proceed to make the stacks.
Create stacks in layers with a piece of eggplant as the base, spread the vegan ricotta, then add a tomato slice; top with another slice of eggplant, then another layer of vegan ricotta, topped with another slice of tomato. In other words: eggplant, vegan ricotta, tomato, ricotta, eggplant, vegan ricotta, tomato.
When finished, broil stacks on low for 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes the tomatoes don’t appear fully cooked, return to the oven for another minute or two, checking to make sure they don’t burn.
Enjoy with a side of greens i.e. baby kale (pictured) and marinara sauce for dipping i.e. the Engine 2 oil-free, no-sugar-added tomato-basil marinara sold exclusively at Whole Foods and is suddenly all the rage and I purchased in order to review it (in an upcoming post)