This is a simple and easy vegan meal that’s perfect for the cold winter season that’s arrived. I want to eat comforting warm food all the time, but especially once I’m in hibernation mode up here in Canada!
I actually made this up as RECIPE?! once when I made dinner for some friends. They loved it so much so I thought it was worth working out so I could share it with all of you too. You can check out the video below to see how this whole dish comes together or keep scrolling for the recipe.
A couple of hot tips, you can make the tofu ricotta in advance so it gets really flavorful. Ensure you buy an eggplant that will fit the width of your mandolin. My mandolin is over 4-inches wide so my eggplant was 4-inches wide at it’s widest base.
MAKES 14 to 18 roll ups or approximately 4 to 6 servings
PREP TIME: 70 minutes
COOK TIME: 35 to 40 minutes
eggplant roll ups
1 large eggplant
sea salt, for eggplant
2 C marinara sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 C pre-made vegan pesto
2 C tofu ricotta (from above)
2 C vegan shreds, mozzarella
1/4 C bread crumbs
ground pepper, to taste
1/2 C fresh basil leaves (garnish)
tofu ricotta (makes about 2 cups)
1 package of firm tofu, drained
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 garlic cloves
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
lentil mushroom filling
2 C cooked or canned green or brown lentils
3/4 C finely diced onion
1 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 to 1 C peeled and diced eggplant offcuts
2 C finely diced cremini mushrooms (about 6 to 7 oz whole mushrooms)
sea salt to taste
Leave the peel on the eggplant and slice it on the thinest setting lengthwise on a mandolin. You need 14 to 18 slices of eggplant. If some slices don’t get cut evenly as one piece you can layer a couple of pieces to make one roll up.
You will have part of the eggplant left once you get enough slices. Peel this leftover portion and dice it up finely. You will mix it in with the lentil and mushroom filling.
Sprinkle approximately 1 tsp of sea salt total divided amongst each slice of eggplant on both sides and lay overlapping on a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Let this sit for 20 minutes or so to release the moisture from the eggplant. Use clean paper towel to gently press and extract more moisture from the slices and pat dry.
While the eggplant is sweating you can make the tofu ricotta. Start by squeezing out the excess water from the block of firm tofu by using a nut milk bag or clean dish towel and wring out as much water as possible. You could also squeeze the firm tofu into a fine mesh sieve to remove excess moisture.
Place the tofu in a food processor and add lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, onion powder, granulated garlic powder, white pepper, and garlic cloves. Process until it’s very smooth.
Add the tofu ricotta mixture into a mixing bowl and fold in fresh basil, oregano, and parsley.
You can use canned lentils, drained, or cook from scratch. If cooking from scratch boil 1 cup of uncooked lentils with 2 cups water, 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt in a sauce pan. Cook at a low simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until cooked through. Drain excess water if necessary and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook diced onions for 3 to 5 minutes until soft. Add minced garlic, granulated garlic, onion powder, dried oregano, diced eggplant, and mushrooms and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is lightly browned. Add cooked lentils and add sea salt to taste.
In an oven safe 9-inch x 13-inch or 10-inch x 14-inch baking dish spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce and 1 tablespoon of olive on the bottom of the baking dish. Spread it around evenly so it covers the bottom of the dish.
To assemble the eggplant roll ups spoon 1 teaspoon of vegan pesto one side of the eggplant slice and spread it around evenly. It’s just a thin layer. Then spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of tofu ricotta along the whole eggplant slice. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of lentil filling on top of the ricotta. Roll it up and place seam side down in the baking dish on top of the marinara. Repeat and arrange remaining eggplant roll ups in baking dish. I was able to arrange 3 rows of 6 rolls in a 10-inch x 14-inch baking dish.
Spoon remaining tomato sauce on top of the eggplant roll ups. If there is any leftover ricotta or lentil mixture you can add that on top of the assembled rolls as well. Top with vegan mozzarella shreds, bread crumbs, and ground pepper.
Bake uncovered for 35 to 40 minutes until bubbling and top is golden brown. Top with fresh basil just before serving.