Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce (vegan, gluten free)
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This hearty Tofu Stuffed Eggplant with Lentil Coconut Sauce is a healthy and vegetable-packed vegan and gluten free dinner perfect for winter.
This tofu stuffed eggplant recipe is based on a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi. His version uses paneer, so I swapped in tofu for a vegan version. It has a creamy and smooth lentil coconut sauce that every (including non-vegans) love. The eggplant rolls are baked in the sauce, so the vegetable and tofu soak up plenty of flavor.
How to Make Tofu Stuffed Eggplant Rolls
The recipe does require some hands on time, but can be easily broken up into 3 steps:
- Prepare the eggplant by baking in the oven.
- Prepare the lentil coconut sauce.
- Wrap tofu and pop into the oven.
If you’d like to streamline the process, Ottolenghi recommends preparing the lentil coconut sauce and the eggplant in advance so that you can roll and bake to enjoy when ready. This is a good option if you’re entertaining.
Ingredients for Tofu Stuffed Eggplant with Lentil Coconut Sauce
Here’s what you need for this crowd-pleasing vegetarian dish:
- Tofu. Be sure to use extra-firm tofu. We’re using this as a vegan alternative to paneer, per Ottolenghi’s original recipe. Give it a quick press with a kitchen towel or paper towel, but no need to press for too long.
- Eggplant. I opted for a mix of graffiti eggplant and Italian eggplant. I recommend using an eggplant roughly 6-8″ in length, with the girth of a soda can for easiest rolling.
- Spinach. If you can, use wild spinach, with larger leaves, not baby spinach. This makes it easier to roll. However if baby spinach is all you have, you can use a handful of pieces and layer them together.
- Red chili. This key for a little bit of spice and kick. I use a small fresh chili pepper the size of my index finger, but you can add more or less as desired.
- Red lentils. These will thicken your sauce. The recipe calls for a small amount, because we’re aiming for a looser sauce versus a thick lentil curry.
- Coconut milk. To add richness to the sauce. The original recipe calls for coconut milk as is, and of course, it’s a great dairy-free milk to use when cooking vegan!
- Seeds & spices. You’ll get unbelievable flavor from fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric and curry powder.
- Tomato paste. To add umami to your sauce.
- Fresh limes. We’ll use both the peel and the fresh juice to garnish.
- Flavour builders. Red onion, shallot, ginger and garlic are must-haves to flavor your sauce.
Tips for Success
Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when making this recipe:
- Most importantly, be sure to use an extra firm tofu, or high protein tofu. You want to work with something that will hold together and not fall apart. Gently pat excess water out by wrapping in a kitchen towel and lightly pressing, but don’t worry too much about pressing out all of the water.
- I recommend looking for an Indian or Middle Eastern specialty grocery store near you if you’re able to find one. You’ll be able to find fresh curry leaves. If you can’t find them, just use a heavy hand with your curry powder instead.
- If you can’t find whole mustard seeds, you can use ground mustard seed instead.
- Although you can make this Tofu Stuffed Eggplant with Lentil Coconut Sauce oil free, I highly recommend using a touch of oil when baking your eggplant. This is an important step to make rolling easier (it’s near impossible to do when the eggplant is raw and firm). Plus, without oil, it’s easy to burn your eggplant in the oven. The result will be something more like an eggplant chip if you exclude the oil. Alternatively, you can use a grill to cook down eggplant first, and you may then be able to omit the oil.
More Vegan Dinner Recipes to Try
- Mo’s Vegan Masala
- Pumpkin Lentil Soup
- Zucchini Ravioli with Vegan Tofu Ricotta
- Lemon and Herb Crusted Tofu Steaks
- Indonesian Inspired Fried Rice
- Thai Red Curry Noodles
- Red Lentil Stew via Plant Based RD
If you try this Tofu Stuffed Eggplant Recipe, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins so I can see your delicious re-creations and feature them! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too.
Tofu Stuffed Eggplant w/ Lentil Coconut Sauce (vegan, gluten free)
- 3 large eggplants cut lengthwise into 1/4" slices
- 1/2 red onion finely minced
- 2 shallots finely minced
- 5 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 " piece of ginger peeled and minced
- 1 red chili index finger sized, seeds removed and finely diced
- 15-20 fresh curry leaves about 2 stems
- 1 tsp black or brown mustard seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp curry powder increase to taste if excluding curry leaves
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 strips lime peel roughly 1/3 of a small lime, and juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 1 can full fat coconut milk about 15oz
- 2 1/2 cups water roughly 1 1/2 cans if you'd like to use your coconut milk can to measure
- 1-2 cups large spinach leaves
- 1 1/2 blocks extra firm tofu roughly 20 oz
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh coriander to garnish
- Bake eggplant
- Preheat oven to 425F while you prepare your eggplant. Thinly slice, and lay out on a lined baking sheet, lightly spraying or brushing with neutral oil of choice. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper, flip and repeat on the other side. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until eggplant is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside. If preferred, you can grill slices, or cook in a grill press instead.
- Prepare your lentil coconut curry sauce
- Sauté red onion with oil or water until translucent and fragrant. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for another few minutes. Next add ginger, chili and curry leaves and cook for another few minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next add tomato pace, spices, lime peel and lentils. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and water and bring the mixture to a slow bubble. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring once in a while, until sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
- Assemble eggplant
- Transfer your lentil coconut sauce into an 8x10 baking dish.
- Wrap tofu in a kitchen linen or paper towel and gently pat to remove excess moisture. Slice tofu into 1 inch rectangular pieces.
- To assemble, take one slice of eggplant, lay spinach on top, a piece or two of tofu and then tightly roll. Place the roll into the sauce, seam side down and repeat.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, until eggplant is golden brown and sauce is bubbling.
- To serve, garnish with fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.