This is one of those meals where the first bite gave me nostalgia. It reminded me of all of the insanely delicious Italian food I was blessed with growing up. This dish has all the flavor and textures of a cozy, saucy, and cheesy lasagna bake without the noodles or dairy! It’s a lightened up version of the hearty dish we all know and love.
I know eggplant is a late summer produce item, but i’m totally making this all fall and winter long. Especially for the holidays! I try to eat seasonally for the most part, but there are just some foods that I love year round!
This is a dish even meat eaters will devour. I know from experience! This will honestly have anyone fooled that it’s gluten and dairy free. It’s way too good to notice!
The ricotta cheese is made with a cashew base, making it both vegan and soy free. It’s simple to make once the cashews have been soaked overnight. It comes together in a few minutes, and has the texture and flavor of ricotta cheese.
Once the eggplant slices get baked up and tender, it’s a quick layering of tomato sauce, the “cheese”, some fresh basil, and the eggplant. Sign me up!
When this eggplant lasagna comes out of the oven, the tomato sauce is bubbling and the cashew cheese gets that warm melt-in-your-mouth texture. The eggplant gets super soft and tender, giving it a similar texture to a noodle but with more nutrients and grain free!
Great for gatherings, but also for meal prep. just pop it right in the oven to heat up and serve with your favorite veggies, salad, or pasta. I honestly just keep this in the pie dish to store in my refrigerator to reheat it instead of transferring it to storage containers! Lazy yet practical 😉
If you want a vegan parmesan to sprinkle over the top, I’ve got a super simple one linked here. It makes a good sized batch that you can keep in the fridge for sprinkling over all things savory. Soo good!
The ultimate vegan and gluten free Italian comfort food- a healthy spin on a cross between classic eggplant parmesan x lasagna!
For the cashew ricotta:
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked in filtered water overnight
- 1/4 cup almond or any dairy free milk
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tbsp honey (agave if you don’t eat honey)
- 1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 cloves garlic
- ~5 leaves of fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
For the eggplant lasagna:
- 2 large eggplants, sliced into about 1/4” rounds (i like to slice a few of the rounds in half to fit better into the baking dish)
- olive oil
- 1 batch of cashew ricotta
- 1 1/3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
- 3–4 fresh basil leaves, torn
- red pepper flakes for topping
- Soak the cashews overnight, then rinse and drain well.
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a large baking dish wish parchment paper. toss the eggplant slices with a good drizzle of olive oil and season with sea salt. spread out across the pan and roast for 20 minutes. while eggplant is in the oven, make the cashew ricotta.
- To make the ricotta, add all ingredients to a food processor and process until a ricotta-like texture is formed. this should only take a few minutes tops (you may need to scrape down the sides once or twice). transfer to a small bowl.
- To make the eggplant lasagna, get all of the ingredients ready and a 9” pie dish- i like a shallow pie dish for this. start by spreading 1/3 cup marinara on the bottom, then cover with a layer of eggplant slices. spread some of the cashew ricotta over the eggplant, enough to mostly cover all of the eggplant (pictures above). spread another 1/3 cup or so of marinara over the ricotta and some of the torn fresh basil. layer again with eggplant, repeating the pro 3 times. you want to finish with a layer of the ricotta and marinara.
- Place pie dish in the oven, and bake for about 20 minutes or until tomato sauce is bubbling and ricotta is slightly browned on top. serve immediately, or reheat in the oven.