Sunday, September 06, 2015

VeganMoFo Day 6: My First Ever Eggplant Parmesan



Today's MoFo Prompt: "Re-create a restaurant meal"

Mr. Vegan Eats & Treats grew up on Long Island, the land of Italian-American cuisine at its finest. His family was Croatian, but he has beloved memories of spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, and - most especially - eggplant parmesan. Out here in Santa Cruz, a hippee child of the 70s, I grew up eating quesadillas, natural peanut butter, and vegetables. We definitely had treats and special outings, and we certainly ate our share of pasta, but I was never really very exposed to these foods that Mr. VE&T loves so much.

A few times a year, we end up over in Palo Alto, which is about an hour from our house. There are many fine dining establishments in Palo Alto, including many that offer great vegan options. At least, so I've heard. I may never know, because every time we go to Palo Alto, we end up eating at Buca di Beppo. 

Mr. VE&T always orders the Eggplant Parm. In fact, he usually orders a huge serving, so that he can have lots to take home and eat later. I usually order the side dish of super garlicky broccoli. Sometimes I also order the side dish of super garlicky green beans. This makes me perfectly content. The veggies are doused in olive oil and salt and more garlic than is generally socially acceptable (ie: perfect for me). On occasion I have also ordered the pasta with plain red sauce, which is basic but good. Just make sure they don't add any cheese or butter, and these items are all vegan.

Buca di Beppo doesn't have a ton of vegan options, but it's serviceable, and it's all in the name of letting my pal Mr VE&T order something he enjoys so much. Plus, I'll admit to loving the music and the over-the-top Italo-phile decor inside. Still, that said... I've been curious about that Eggplant Parm. Up until now, I had never actually had it, but I thought it sounded pretty good. So, for today's MoFo challenge, I set about to veganize and recreate our Buca di Beppo meals. 


my first-born eggplant parm
missing from this picture is "The Abundance Diet," whose Moxerella recipe I used

Since I'd never had eggplant parm before, and I wasn't really sure what I was aiming for, I looked at a few different books for inspiration: Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen and Nonna's Italian Kitchen, plus the eggplant lasagna recipe from The Abundance Diet. The Eggplant Parm recipes were pretty similar. Both called for 3 pounds of eggplant -woooo hoooo! Eggplant is Mr VE&T's favorite veggie ever, so I already knew we were on the right track. I already knew I wanted to use the Moxerella recipe from The Abundance Diet, because I love that stuff. 

Both recipes also called for roasting the eggplant slices, rather than frying them, which I was grateful for. I am not a frying fan. The layers went like this: tomato sauce (homemade, of course!), eggplant slices, toasted bread crumbs, layer of Moxerella, layer of parm (I used half Parma, and half Go Veggie!), repeat. Then, pop that giant casserole dish of late summer glory into the oven and wait for 25 minutes.

Just like Buca di Beppo, but vegan and low-cal and cruelty-free and local and organic and inexpensive

Boy Howdy, this was a HIT! I can see why people are so crazy about Eggplant Parm! This biz was sooo good: it was rich and creamy and bursting with flavor. One of my besties dropped by my house soon after I had taken this out of the oven. She couldn't stay for dinner, so I sent her home with a piece. She ate the whole thing in the car before she even got home! ha ha.

As you can see, I also made some of the super garlicky broccoli to go with it. I added a little more salt and olive oil than I usually do at home, but still nowhere near as much as they add at the restaurant. Still, it was super delicious and just that little bit more special than my usual unadulterated steamed broccoli. I love those crunchy golden little bits of minced garlic SO MUCH. And the broccoli goes well with the eggplant parm - it's a bit crisp still, fresh and green, and is a nice balance to the deep richness of the EggplantP.



And what did Mr. VE&T think? As you can see, he loved it too! Ha ha. He is always saying the craziest things. This dish took some work, but it was so delicious and so special that I will definitely look forward to making it again. After watching him eat non-vegan Eggplant Parm for all these years, it was really fun to share this meal together and finally learn what all the fuss is about.

18 comments:

  1. Such a sweet post! I love that you used the opportunity to make one of Mr. VE&T's favorite meals. I still haven't tried Somer's moxarella, but I need to do it for a dinner party sometime. (Mr. CK's isn't into melty cheese, even if it's vegan.)

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  2. I'm so glad to see someone use Nonna's Italian Kitchen. So many earlier cookbooks are very useful.

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  3. Great post (as usual). I do like the "actual dinner conversation" -- Captures Musty's style quite nicely! I'd love to have your amalgamated version of the various recipes you used. It's a different approach to eggplant parm than I've used ... more like eggplant lasagna. Yummo.

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  4. P.S. Loved your YouTube tutorial on how to drink from a can ;)

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  5. What a lovely post! Very sweet. That meal looks so delicious.

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  6. Your posts are the sweetest! I'm glad you both loved your version of the dish so much. It looks so delicious and creamy and that broccoli sounds like the perfect side dish.

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  7. I'm hungry! Your post made me want eggplant parm right now! I used to like to get it at Aragona's in Soquel before I was vegan. I'll have to try your method sometime soon.

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  8. Such a lovely post!
    Your dinner looks delicious. How good is that Moxarella? I am making the eggplant lasagne from TAD on Wednesday.

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  9. eggplant parmas are soooo good, I also love roasting eggplant instead of frying. This looks fab!

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  10. Wow! This looks outstanding !!

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  11. Parmigiana (as we call this dish in Germany) used to be my favourite dish. I missed it super hard until Celine Steen came up with a recipe and published it in her Hearty Vegan book. I was so glad I had it back. Mr. VE&T is so lucky to have you. Your version looks so good, I want it now.

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  12. So glad you got to enjoy this dish together! It sounds delicious. :)

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  13. Wow! Your photos are really lovely! I'm impressed. Anytime I make something like this - a parmigiana, a lasagna, a casserole, enchiladas - it is totally unphotographable. But this is gorgeous! Plus it looks absolutely delicious.

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  14. I should give eggplant parm another chance! I remember hating when I was little but it was Grandma who made it... and I am remembering how bad of a cook she is. I mean she BURNS the cresant rolls in the tube. How do you burn and make those crunchy? Don't they add so much fat in them that they are fool proof? lol.

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  15. Looks fantastic! YUM! Totally up my alley!

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  16. Yuuuuum! I've always thought that eggplant parm looked amazing but I've never eaten it. I'm super glad that you enjoyed it!

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  17. I love eggplant parm, although I've never had the one with dairy cheese. There is a recipe for it in American Vegan Kitchen that is really good, but the eggplant gets served on pasta with tomato sauce.

    There is also one in Vegan Eats World that I've done at least four times and that pleases both omnis and vegans. That one is a little less Italien though with baharat spice.

    You can look at the pics here if you want :
    http://veganamontreal.blogspot.ca/2014/09/aubergines-parmesan-aux-accents.html
    http://veganamontreal.blogspot.ca/2012/04/aubergines-parmigiana-vegetaliennes.html

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