The other day, I talked about eating more vegetarian meals. Although there are some meat dishes I really enjoy, for the most part, eating less meat hasn't required too much effort or restraint. In contrast, becoming vegan would be a completely different story for me.
The vegan salad I made tasted great -- but I don't think I would survive never having feta cheese in my salad again. This eggplant lasagna was already really flavourful! But, I missed having real cheese on top. Daiya is a great substitute. But it doesn't melt the way real cheese does.
Okay -- enough knocking vegan food. In fact, this dish was actually really good. I made a vegan eggplant lasagna (no noodles). Here's what I did:
First I peeled and sliced eggplant into rounds. Then I sprinkled salt on both sides of the eggplant to remove the bitterness.
After letting the eggplant sit for about an hour (maybe longer), I rinsed off the eggplant to remove the salt.
I looked all over the place for a soy-based ricotta or cottage cheese. I should have started with Google because it turns out that it's really easy to just make a ricotta-like substitute by blending a firm tofu and adding some spices (e.g., oregano, basil, garlic powder).
For the first layer, I spread out a fair amount of crushed tomatoes
Then more crushed tomatoes
Then I put a layer of cheese
Then, the tofu ricotta and a layer of spinach
and canned San Marzano tomatoes
Next comes the last layer of eggplant
I put the last of my crushed tomatoes on top of the eggplant and finished it off with more Daiya cheese.
I let the lasagne cook at 350 for about an hour (partly to make sure that the eggplant was cooked through, partly because the cheese was slow to brown and partly because we were eating the salad and visiting with friends)
Like I said, the dish tasted good. It was a bit messy plating it.
Hopefully you're not pictured out because I also wanted to quickly share the appetizer. At the end of the garden season last year, we had a bunch of cherry tomatoes to use up. So, although I could probably just eat them standing over the counter, we decided to preserve them by oven roasting them with garlic and freezing them in ice cube trays.
I took a bunch of the cubes from the freezer and warmed them up,
The entire appetizer was motivated by wanting to try the Apple Cider Vinegar Pearls we recently got. Gingras makes these caviar-like pearls that are little bursts of apple cider vinegar.
Overall, the appetizer was just okay. I really like the crackers (I just randomly chose them while shopping). I think the vinegar pearls didn't add much to the flavour of the tomato, which already have their own acidity. I suspect they would be better with a cheese or meat topping. They also didn't visibly stand out very much against the tomatoes. Thankfully, I still have 2 out of the 4 sachets of pearls left. So, I'll keep experimenting with them.