An impressive, layered vegan eggplant casserole with potatoes, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and cashew “ricotta”. Trust me – it’s worth the effort!
This hearty, multi-layer eggplant casserole is the pièce de résistance of late summer produce. But just so we’re clear, it’s not quick, easy, or weeknight friendly. It is, on the other hand, pretty time-consuming and does involve a lot of steps and dirty dishes. However, I would not be advising you to go through with it unless it was 100% worth it. Which it definitely is.
A bit of backstory: last summer, Rene’s aunt invited us over for Sunday lunch, where she served this eggplant gratin. It had potatoes, tomatoes, caramelized onions, eggplant, and goat cheese. It was beautiful and delicious, and I could tell she must’ve spent a long time assembling it. After scarfing down several servings, I made a note to myself to try it next summer (without cheese, of course).
What’s In This Vegan Eggplant Casserole
This healthy baked dish consists of several layers of summer produce: thinly-sliced potatoes, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and roasted eggplant rounds. For the vegan “cheese” element, this calls for my beloved cashew “ricotta” – a creamy mixture of raw cashews, miso, lemon juice, and garlic. For reference, this dish has a similar flavor profile to ratatouille and the vibe of a pasta-less lasagna.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Eggplant: Standard globe eggplants are best here. For the tastiest results, look for local, in-season eggplants (from a farmers market or farmstand).
- Tomatoes: Any large tomatoes will work here – heirloom, beefsteak, plum, etc.
- Potatoes: Regular russets are perfect for this. Yukon golds work too.
- Raw Cashews: If you’re allergic to nuts, use raw sunflower seeds.
- Miso: Gives vegan ricotta a savory, “cheesy” taste – don’t skip it! Miso can be found in most supermarkets in the refrigerated section (near things like tofu, kimchi, etc.) or in the international foods aisle.
Eggplant Casserole Step-by-Step
Roast the Eggplant: Cut the eggplant into rounds. Drizzle both sides generously with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a single layer until golden brown, about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through. (If you don’t want to have the oven on for that long, brown the eggplants in a skillet instead.)
Prep the Ricotta: Cover your cashews with boiling water and set aside for about 30 minutes to soften. Then drain, and combine in a food processor/Vitamix with lemon juice, miso, garlic, salt, and water. Puree until smooth.
Cook the Onions: Cook your sliced onions in a skillet with thyme and plenty of olive oil until brown, about 20 minutes.
Assemble the Casserole: Grease a casserole dish with oil and layer in the potatoes, onions, eggplant, ricotta, tomatoes, and garlic slices. Drizzle the final layer with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.
Bake the Casserole: Cover the dish with foil and bake until the potatoes are cooked through, about 50 minutes. Then uncover and continue roasting until the potatoes are golden, about 15 minutes more.
Eggplants: To Salt or Not to Salt
If you’re a regular here on TNB, you probably know that I typically advise to salt and sweat eggplant before cooking (to reduce its bitterness). One reason I’m skipping it here is because it’s a summer recipe and in-season eggplants are abundant; these tend to be less bitter than their year-round supermarket counterparts.
Another reason is that this casserole has a lot of other strong flavors (tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc.) which effectively mask any potential bitterness.
This vegan eggplant casserole is best served right away. The leftovers are still pretty tasty, but the potatoes do dry out a bit. If you want to prep this in advance (if you have guests coming over), I recommend roasting the eggplant, cooking the onions, and making the ricotta, and keeping them in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble and bake the casserole. All three pre-cooked elements will last about 3 days in the fridge. Do not slice the potatoes or tomatoes in advance, as they will oxidize and lose their juices, respectively.
More summer recipes…
Let me know if you try this recipe! Give it a rating below and leave a comment, and don’t forget to tag @thenewbaguette on Instagram with your creation.Print
A layered vegan eggplant casserole with potatoes, tomatoes, caramelized onions, and cashew “ricotta”. Trust me – it’s worth the effort!
For the Ricotta* (see note below)
- 1 1/4 cups raw cashews*
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons white miso
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 small garlic clove
- 1/3 cup water
For the Vegetables
- About 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- 3 large vine tomatoes, sliced
- 4 small or 3 medium russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and very thinly sliced
- 2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Start the ricotta. Place 1 1/4 cups cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside for about 30 minutes to soften.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Roast the eggplant. Arrange eggplant in a single layer on a large baking sheet. (If it doesn’t all fit, divide among 2 sheets.) Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Roast until golden brown, about 35 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Cook the onions. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions with 1 teaspoon thyme and pinches of salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
- Finish the ricotta. Drain the cashews and place in a food processor or Vitamix. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons miso, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a small garlic clove. Pulse until everything is broken down. Add 1/3 cup water and puree until creamy.
- Reduce the oven temp to 375ºF.
- Assemble the casserole. Grease the bottom of a 9×13” casserole dish with oil and arrange a third of the potatoes in a single layer across the bottom. Scatter half of the onions on top. Arrange half of the eggplant on top and dollop half of the ricotta across the eggplant; try to spread it as evenly as you can but don’t drive yourself crazy. Top with half of the tomatoes, all the garlic slices, and season with salt and pepper. Repeat the layers again – the final layer will be the remaining third of the potatoes. Press down on the potatoes to flatten the layers a bit. Drizzle the top with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake the casserole. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through. Then uncover, raise the heat to 400ºF, and continue baking until the potatoes are golden, about 15 minutes more.
- If you eat dairy, you can sub the cashew ricotta with goat cheese.
- If you’re allergic to nuts, sub with raw sunflower seeds.
- Serving Size: 1/8 of the recipe
- Calories: 290
- Fat: 17.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 30.6 g
- Fiber: 7.1 g
- Protein: 6.4 g
Keywords: eggplant, casserole, gratin, vegan