These scrumptious vegan eggplant parmesan subs are one of my greatest achievements. Fix yourself a saucy sub tonight and thank me later!
Slice the entire eggplant into approximately 1/2-inch thick rounds. You should get 8 larger rounds to use for the patties, and have about 1/3 of the eggplant remaining (about 6 slices) that you’ll use to make the cheese sauce.
Lay the rounds onto wire racks or in a colander in the sink, and sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons of sea salt over both sides of all the eggplant slices. Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes to release moisture.
Rinse the eggplant slices under water, rubbing excess salt off. Pat them dry and gently squeeze excess moisture out with a clean towel or paper towels.
Take the extra pieces of eggplant that aren’t going to be breaded and sauté them in a frying pan in 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes until very soft, lightly browned, and completely cooked through. Remove these pieces from the pan and set aside for making the cheese sauce.
If you’re making the marinara sauce, keep this pan on medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté garlic and chili flakes for 1 to 2 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add in the remaining marinara sauce ingredients, stir to combine, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Turn heat to low, cover with a lid, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. If you’re using ready made tomato sauce just heat it up in small sauce pan and keep it warm on low heat until assembling the sandwiches.
While the sauce is cooking, you can make the cheese sauce by adding the sautéed eggplant to a high-powered blender with the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients. Blend on high until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and heat it over medium-low for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, allowing it to thicken slightly just before assembling the sandwiches.
In a large heavy bottom pan, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups of vegetable oil, so there’s about a 1/2-inch of oil covering the bottom. Heat it to 350°F.
If you’re making sandwiches, you also pre-heat your oven to broil to toast the rolls. I say this because you could also skip the bread and sandwiches and serve this over spaghetti!
While the oil is heating, prepare the dredge and breading for the eggplant patties. In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs, vegan parmesan, basil, oregano, sea salt, and ground black pepper. Put nondairy milk and flour in 2 separate bowls.
Coat a piece of eggplant in flour, dredge it in milk, then put it in the bread crumb mixture and use your hands to get it well coated on all sides and edges.
Fry eggplant patties in 2 batches (4 slices each, depending on the size of your pan, but don’t overcrowd the slices) for 3 to 4 minutes, flipping halfway through. Set aside on paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
Cut the rolls in half and butter each side with a 1/2 tablespoon of vegan butter. Toast open faced in the oven under the broiler for 2 minutes until golden brown.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread some cheese sauce on the bottom half, add a few basil leaves, place 2 eggplant patties on top, then add marinara sauce and more cheese sauce to the top. Serve immediately.