I finally did it. After eighty-two years of saying I would, I skitched myself on over to the bookstore and bought a copy of Vegan YumYum. Guys, that cookbook is off the hizzy. For rizzy.
I don’t care if you’ve never liked a vegan thing in your life. I don’t care if your husband and kids swear they will never touch a vegan meal. Everything in that cookbook is something you will make. This recipe? Well, it’s not in the cookbook. It’s from the VeganYumYum website. Though there are a katrillion recipes from the book that will be made in my kitchen this year, I couldn’t get this recipe out of my mind once I’d discovered it.
This recipe is insane fab because it doesn’t use pasta. It uses….bread. Sourdough bread.
Stop right there. Pick your heart up off the ground.
I know, rigggght?
It calls for eggplant, too. You’re get to roast it. We did. My kids didn’t even care that there was eggplant in the meal. They ate all of it. The entire casserole pan vanished over a silent 40-minute meal wherein not a single one could stop shoveling mad amounts of eggplant, spinach, and other such vegan goodness right into their bocas. This is where it’s at, people.
Right here. In your face.
I used Muir Glen tomatoes for no other reason than I hope to swim in them four times a week and twice on Mondays. Pay the extra dollar or two. Never go back to anything but Muir Glen.
I will check up with you on this one. It’s vital to your tomato passion.
Okay, so here’s where things get good.
Remember how we’re eating according to Michael Pollan’s Food Rules this year? Right.
So, this meal is gorgie perfect because it snaps right on top of not just one, but TWO Food Rules. For starters, we’re horking down veggies and nary a meat. Hello healthy.
Secondly, this recipe follows the “eat plants, mostly leaves” rule because we added a full two pounds of garlic-sauteed spinach to the original recipe.
The kids ate all of that spinach right along with their eggplants.
And really, it’s no wonder. Because by the time this gorgeous recipe came out of the oven, the whole house smelled like Italy. And unicorns.
Like I said, off the hizzy. Right dang off the unicorn hizzy.
Vegan Rustic Bread, Eggplant & Spinach Lasagna
5 Tbs olive oil + 1/4 cup for drizzling
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28-oz) cans Muir Glen Crushed Tomatoes with Basil, blended
2 tsp salt
4 tsp Italian Herb mix
2 eggplants, sliced to 1/2" thick
2 pounds fresh spinach, cleaned and chopped
12 slices of day-old rustic sourdough bread
Olive oil nonstick cooking spray
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 large tomatoes, sliced very thin
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil to medium then toss in about one-fourth of the garlic cloves. Cook for 2-3 minutes in the hot oil, stirring constantly to keep the garlic from burning. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, and Italian Herb Mix and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Place the eggplant slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper, then slide pan into preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until eggplant is tender and slightly golden brown around the edges.
While your eggplant is roasting, spray each slice of sourdough bread on both sides with nonstick olive oil spray. Cook in a heated grill pan until toasty and golden brown on both sides.
In a large saucepan or wok, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, sweat the garlic in the hot oil for 1-2 minutes, then add the chopped spinach and cook until wilted.
To assemble: Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce in the bottom of a large casserole pan. Layer with bread until the dish is completely covered. Add half of the tomato sauce mixture on top. Layer all of the eggplant and spinach on top of the sauce. Add a second layer of bread over the spinach layer. Top with remaining sauce, making sure that you've covered the bread entirely with the sauce.
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Place sliced tomatoes across the top of the breadcrumbs. Salt and pepper generously.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then drizzle balsamic vinegar over the tomatoes, sprinkle fresh basil, then slice, serve, and enjoy with a crisp salad and sparkling lemon water.