These eggplant stacks are a hybrid of lasagna and eggplant parmesan. Made with cashew “ricotta” and without any actual Parmesan, this recipe is vegan with a gluten-free option.
When I first set out to develop this recipe, I was going for an eggplant parm lasagna type thing – veganized with cashew “ricotta”, with roasted eggplant instead of fried (inspired by this Alison Roman recipe). As I was layering the roasted eggplant rounds into the baking dish with marinara and ricotta, I realized it may actually be hard to serve as a casserole – having to cut through the eggplant skins and all. So I rerouted and made individual stacks instead, which turned out to be one of the best ideas I’ve had all summer.
What’s In These Mini Vegan Eggplant Lasagnas
These vegan eggplant lasagna stacks consist of roasted eggplant rounds, homemade cashew “ricotta”, store-bought marinara, and a crunchy Panko breadcrumb topping. And they really do taste like a hybrid of eggplant parm and lasagna! They’re simple to make, super delicious, and fancy enough for guests. Serve these with pasta, sautéed greens, a fresh salad, or by themselves.
How to Make This Recipe
Soak cashews: Start by soaking cashews to make the “ricotta”. Place them in a bowl, cover with boiling water, and set aside for at least 40 minutes. Soaking softens the cashews and allows them to turn into creamy ricotta later.
Salt eggplant: Meanwhile, cut your eggplants into rounds, layer them into a colander with salt, and let them stand for about 15 minutes. Salting eggplant before cooking draws out excess moisture as well as some of its bitterness. When the eggplant looks sweaty, rinse it under running water and pat completely dry.
Roast eggplant: Next, roast the eggplant until golden brown, about 30 minutes. It’s important to roast the rounds in a single layer so they get evenly browned and don’t lose their shape; if all your eggplant doesn’t fit on a single baking sheet, divide it among two sheets.
Make cashew ricotta: While the eggplant roasts, finish the ricotta by pureeing the drained cashews with lemon juice, miso, garlic, salt, and water. A food processor or wide-bottom blender (like a Vitamix) are the best tools for the job; a traditional upright blender might require a bit more water to get things going.
Assemble and bake: Next, make the crunchy topping by combining Panko with nutritional yeast, parsley, salt, and oil. Finally, assemble the stacks and bake until the Panko is golden, 10 to 15 minutes. (Pro tip: Use larger rounds as the base of each stack and smaller rounds toward the top).
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Eggplant: Look for eggplant that has glossy taut skin without indentations or bruising – that’s how you know it’s fresh. This recipe can be made with regular globe or striped (aka “graffiti”) eggplants.
- Cashews: Raw cashews make the creamiest ricotta. As substitutes, use blanched or sliced almonds.
- Miso: This Japanese fermented soybean paste is available in most supermarkets these days. Look for it in the refrigerated section, near things like hummus and tofu, or in the international aisle.
- Panko: These Japanese breadcrumbs are fluffier and crunchier than American-style, although either type can be used here. Panko is available in most supermarkets in the breadcrumb aisle.
- Parsley: If you don’t feel like buying a fresh bunch, use 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning instead.
These vegan eggplant lasagna stacks are best eaten right away. Leftovers will still be delicious on day 2, but will eventually get soggy (but still be yummy!). The Panko topping will lose its crunch as soon as this goes in the fridge. If you want to prep ahead, the cashew ricotta can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; all other elements should be made day-of.
More vegan eggplant recipes…
- Roasted Eggplant Sandwich with Romesco Sauce
- Spicy Tomato-Stewed Eggplant
- Soy-Glazed Eggplant with Red Onion, Garlic and Ginger
Serve these vegan eggplant lasagna stacks with pasta, sautéed greens, a fresh salad, or by themselves.
For the Cashew Ricotta
- 3/4 cup raw cashews* (see note below)
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
- 1 heaping teaspoon white miso
- 1 tiny garlic clove
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- About 3 tablespoons water
For the Eggplant etc.
- 3 small eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
- Fine sea salt
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs*
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon minced parsley*
- About 1 cup store-bought marinara sauce
- Start the cashew ricotta: place 3/4 cup raw cashews in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for at least 40 minutes or up to several hours.
- Meanwhile, place a layer of sliced eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Continue layering in the eggplant and sprinkling each layer with salt. Let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 450ºF.
- When the eggplant looks sweaty, rinse it thoroughly under running water, transfer to a kitchen towel, and pat dry.
- Arrange the eggplant in a single layer on a large baking sheet; if it doesn’t all fit, use two sheets. Lightly drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper; flip and oil and season the other side. Roast until the eggplant is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes, flipping once after about 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, finish the ricotta. Drain the cashews and place in a food processor or Vitamix. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 heaping teaspoon miso, 1 tiny garlic clove, and a pinch of salt. Pulse until everything is broken down. Add 3 tablespoons of water and puree until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/3 cup Panko, 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, and 1 tablespoon minced parsley with a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil. Using your fingers, rub the mixture together to incorporate the oil. Set aside.
- Reduce oven temperature to 375ºF.
- Start building the stacks on the same baking sheet where you roasted the eggplant: spread about a teaspoon of the ricotta on a piece of eggplant, drizzle with about a teaspoon of marinara, and top with another piece of eggplant. Repeat the layers one more time. Spread about a teaspoon of marinara (no ricotta) on the top slice – each stack should have 3 pieces of eggplant in total. Continue building the stacks until you’ve used up all the ingredients. Sprinkle all the stacks with the Panko topping.
- Bake until the Panko is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
- As substitutes, use blanched or sliced almonds.
- These Japanese breadcrumbs are fluffier and crunchier than American-style, although either type can be used here. Panko is available in most supermarkets in the breadcrumb aisle. Use gluten-free Panko to make this recipe GF.
- If you don’t feel like buying a fresh bunch of parsley, use 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning instead.
- Serving Size: 3 stacks
- Calories: 390
- Fat: 24.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 38.7 g
- Fiber: 12.6 g
- Protein: 8.5 g
Keywords: vegan, eggplant, parmesan, lasagna, cashew