Wash and slice eggplant lengthwise less than ¼ inches thin (0.5 cm). Salt them and let them sit at least for 20 minutes. (You can do overnight and don't worry if you turn brown. The slices will be brown after roasting and baking. For more info visit our Cooking Eggplant Guide)
Roasting eggplant slices
We recommend roasting them coated thinly with olive oil on a baking tray with grill rack. Pre-heat the oven for 390 Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celcius) and roast them for 10 minutes. When ready, leave it to cool on the rack.
Making pomodoro sauce
Peel and chop the onion and cook it lightly in olive oil until it turns glossy. Add peeled and chopped garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add tomato sauce and seasoning (basil, salt, and pepper) and cook for 5 minutes.
Making vegan melted cheese sauce
Peel and chop the onion and cook it lightly in olive oil until it turns glossy.
Add peeled and chopped garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add canned cannellini beans and bring to boil.
Add dairy-free milk and whisk until combined and bring to boil. Finally, add apple cider vinegar, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.
The next step would be to blend it into a smooth, creamy sauce (Use an immersion blender or for an extra smooth sauce use a high power blender like Vitamix).
Now, it is time to thicken it to a consistency of melted cheese. Add the mixture back to a saucepan and add tapioca starch (1 Tbsp at a time). When you are ready, layer up your eggplant parmesan.
Layering and baking eggplant parmesan
To ensure that the eggplant slices do not stick to the bottom, we spread on the bottom of our 9 x 7 x 3 inch (23 x 18 x 8 cm) oven-safe dish a splash of pomodoro sauce.
The first layer is roasted eggplant slices (not overlapping). Then comes a generous amount of pomodoro sauce. Then the cheezy beany white sauce.
Now, repeat: eggplant – tomato sauce – cheese. We recommend doing 3 layers of eggplant.
Pre-heat oven for 390 F (200 degrees Celsius) and bake it for 15 minutes.
A quick tip: Bean-based sauces can dry up, so that is why the baking time is short. However, we roasted the eggplants, cooked the pomodoro and the melted cheese sauce, so there is really nothing needed to be baked for long.
Troubleshooting tips to make a vegan melted cheese sauce
This sauce will not give you sliceable mozzarella, but it will give you a rich, creamy, melted cheese texture. I would even say way richer and more delicious than melted mozzarella. But let us know what do you think.
Not thick enough? -> Add more starch (1 Tbsp at a time) directly to the sauce and stir vigorously with a whisk to avoid any lumps. The bean puree so to speak helps with the thickening a lot.
Too thick? -> If the beans make the sauce too thick, just add more milk (1 Tbsp at a time).
Can you use any other flour or starch? -> Yes, you can make this vegan bechamel sauce with any type of flour or starch, but the thickening power of each and every one of them is different. The measurements I gave in the recipe card may not be the same if you use wheat flour, or almond flour or other starch, etc.