This Baked Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata is sponsored by the awesome folks over at Uncle Steve’s.
Baked Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata is a delicious, no fuss, oil-free version of Eggplant Parmesan ready with only 15 minutes of active prep time!
Eggplant Parmesan is one of the true Italian classics. A dish that masterfully combines sauce, seasoning, breaded eggplant and cheese, but so complicated! Prior to transitioning to a plant-based and gluten-free diet, I loved Eggplant Parmesan–when someone else made it. So many steps: soak the eggplant, bread the eggplant, fry the eggplant, some even call for frying and baking the eggplant–and we haven’t even talked about the homemade sauce yet!
I’d been wanting to create a vegan and gluten-free version, but I knew if it was something I was going to enjoy with regularity I had to find a way to make it a quicker prep without sacrificing flavor.
The Secret of Eggplant
I have to attribute this recipe coming to fruition to two events that occurred almost simultaneously. First, I discovered a secret about eggplant. (Maybe it’s not a secret, maybe I’m the only one who’s been out of the loop.)
There are male and female eggplant. I know, right?
The female eggplants are the reason that so many recipes call for you to cover the slices in salt and let them sit for a couple of hours. They tend to have more seeds and a tougher texture which will sometimes result in bitter, leathery eggplant.
Male eggplant have very few seeds and are not bitter or leathery. So, the lesson here is buy male eggplant!
Male versus Female
So how do you know which is which? If you look at the end of the eggplant (opposite the green stem) some have a smooth bottom and some have a dimple (like a shallow belly button). The males are the ones with the smooth bottoms; choose those. Also, the eggplant should be firm to the touch but not rock hard. Now we can skip the salting!
The Homemade Sauce
Second, I am a tough sell on any jarred tomato sauce that didn’t come out of my parents’ canning pantry. Over the years I’ve tried my share of off-the-shelf sauces and I was never thrilled. Not to mention I married an Italian and understand how genuine, homemade Italian sauces should taste. There is nothing quite like it.
After trying Uncle Steve’s things are gonna get crazy in my house. I finally found a jarred tomato sauce that makes me feel like it was made and canned in my own kitchen. (And yes, in case you are wondering, Uncle Steve is none other than Steve Schirripa of The Sopranos and Blue Bloods fame!)
They use fresh organic ingredients (including imported Italian plum tomatoes), no additives or preservatives, no tomato puree and no added sugar! Their sauces are plant-based and gluten-free. That’s a huge part of the equation, but what about the end product? The sauce tastes exactly like homemade sauce. The taste, the texture, right down to the little chunks of garlic.
Now the prep of my Baked Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata just got even shorter. No sauce to make! Uncle Steve’s Marinara and Tomato Basil sauces are equally as delicious and fresh tasting, but I chose to spice up my eggplant with the Arrabiata. It brings a nice moderate heat to the dish by incorporating organic red chili flakes into the sauce.
Okay, we’ve got our eggplant and our sauce–let’s get cookin’! First set up your dipping station: three bowls, three spoons and one fork.
Grab a slice of eggplant with the fork and coat each side with the coconut flour in the first bowl. Use the fork and spoon to flip and coat the eggplant with the flour. This makes this usually cumbersome process mess-free and speedy!
Pick up the eggplant with the fork again, gently tap off extra flour and proceed to the next bowl with fresh minced garlic and cashew milk. Coat each side in the liquid, allow excess to drip off and proceed to the seasoned gluten-free bread crumbs.
Coat each side in gluten-free seasoned bread crumbs and lay on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the process until all slices have been coated and placed on baking sheet.
The Home Stretch
All that’s left is to bake the breaded slices for 20 minutes on each side, remove from oven and dollop with a spoonful of sauce, and sprinkle with vegan mozzarella and vegan parmesan. Return to the oven at a higher temperature for about 12 minutes or until cheese has melted and serve.
Baked Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata
I love the versatility of this recipe! Serve plated in a stack on a generous dollop of sauce or lay single slices over a bed of sauce-covered pasta. Choose eggplant with a smaller circumference and they make a great bite-sized appetizer. The Arrabiata sauce offers so much character to this dish with the heat from the red chili flakes. But if spicy is not your thing, you can always substitute with a milder Marinara or Tomato Basil. It’s all good!
Check out Uncle Steve’s store locator to find where their sauce is sold in a location near you. Or you can buy it directly from their website.
If you are craving some other awesome Italian delights, check out my Eggplant Caponata, Vegan Italian Meatballs, and Vegan Zucchini Lasagna! Or you can pair this dish with a delightful Vegan Caesar Salad. Enjoy!
This Vegan Eggplant Arrabiata is sponsored by my friends over at Uncle Steve’s. As always, all opinions are my own–and rest assured I only endorse products I love and use in my own house. Thanks for supporting them to make new and healthy recipes possible at Nutritionicity!