Eggplant Pasta Bake

Happy Earth Day! In the spirit of encouraging and celebrating a more plant based diet, I bring you my family's absolute favorite vegan meal, which desperately needs a better name. If an eggplant parmesan and a lasagna had a vegan love child, it would be this crunchy topped, vegetable filled, gooey centered dish. It may not be exactly health food, but it's certainly a healthier version of some classic kitchen comforts.

I'm not going to lie, it takes a couple hours to make and bake and dirties up a whole pile of dishes, but my family gets at least two and sometimes three meals from a single pan. Then they beg me to make it again.

Just a couple notes about ingredients: the recipe calls for a total of an 8 oz bag of daiya mozzarella style shreds in lieu of cheese. If that is a product you are unable to use, simply omit it, but do add an additional cup of breadcrumbs to the topping.

You may also use any type of pasta or bread for the crumbs, whether it be whole grain, gluten free or a more traditional type. I usually use whole wheat bread for the topping, but a standard mostaccioli rigate for the pasta. Penne and macaroni are other shapes that also work well.

Eggplant Pasta Bake
(Click here for printable version.)

2 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tbs mixed Italian herbs
29 oz can tomato puree
15 oz can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

1 medium eggplant
kosher salt
2 Tbs olive oil

Additional Ingredients:
8 oz pasta (i.e. rigate) cooked al dente
2 C packed spinach leaves
1 C daiya mozzarella style shreds

3-4 slices bread or 1 C breadcrumbs
1 C daiya mozzarella style shreds
1 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt

Slice eggplant into 1/2" thick rounds, then peel. Sprinkle with kosher salt and layer in a colander. Allow to sweat for 30 minutes to reduce bitterness.

While eggplant drips away, make the sauce. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a medium pan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Stir in mushroom and cook until soft. Mix in Italian seasoning and garlic, then add both pureed and diced tomatoes, including liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat to low and allow to simmer while continuing prep.

Preheat oven to 375°F and start pasta water boiling. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. (I use the easy release type.) Rinse off eggplant and dry with a paper towel. Slice rounds into 1/2" wide sticks.

(I used to leave the eggplant in rounds, but started cutting them into sticks simply so that my son could eat the dish without needing it cut up for him. Then I discovered that they baked more quickly and evenly this way, too.)

Dump the eggplant sticks onto the baking sheet, drizzle them with olive oil, toss with fingers, then spread in a single layer on the sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain. Place all of the topping ingredients in a food processor and puree until both bread and daiya are a uniform large breadcrumb size. Remove eggplant from oven when done, reduce oven temperature to 350°F and begin assembly in a 9"x13" pan.

For the first layer, just barely cover the bottom of the pan with sauce. Evenly spread out half of the pasta, then all of the eggplant on top of it. Sprinkle eggplant with remaining cup daiya shreds, then cover with spinach. Spread one third of remaining sauce over spinach, then layer remaining pasta on top it. Carefully spread remaining sauce, being sure to completely cover pasta, then gently sprinkle topping over sauce.

Flip over aluminum foil from the baking sheet and cover the pan. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 15. Remove pan from oven and allow to set for 15 minutes if you can. If you can't, that's fine, too.


Lyn Ashby said...

This is a great looking recipe that I will try!! Thank you for sharing :)

Bella said...

Wow, that looks amazing! I am going to have to try this and pass the recipe on to friends!

Alice said...

Diet is as important as exercise for kids to stay fit and healthy. This dish really looks nutritious and delicious.

CL Daniel said...

Looks really good. I don't know if I could fit in 2 hours to prepare though, maybe on a weekend.

Natalie said...

I love these recipes! Such a good idea for eggplant! Thanks for sharing!

Katie said...

I've just recently been getting into eggplant. I will have to try this out.

Lily A. said...

I enjoy the food which is quite different and brings a unique flavor to my dinner table. The recipe which you have shared is mind blowing and quite fascinating. I can easily make it in the comfort of my own kitchen. Thanks for sharing and I expect such awesome recipes in the coming future.

Unknown said...

This looks great! I think my son would love this for lunch at school tomorrow! Thanks for sharing.

sergio Anacleto said...

This look simple and very healthy. Thanks for sharing it.

Julio yohe said...

I always like eggplants but I never thought it would taste good with pasta. This is truly an amazing recipe. I would love to try this one with the help of my mom. Thanks a ton!

Raymond said...

Its an amazing recipe, although it's quite simple but quite interesting. I prefer raw vegetables over cooked ones. As you don’t lose any vitamins and essential elements on the stove. I would make an addition to this recipe and use green olives with baked potatoes. I hope it doesn’t collide with the original recipe.

Unknown said...

Fantastic recipe! Easy the find the ingredients, easy to prepare. I am a 100% sure, my family will fall in love with this meal. Thank you for sharing it! :)